Kyle Larson said he personally apologized to Rick Hendrick after his comments about the HMS organization earlier this week.
In an interview with NBC Sports, the Chip Ganassi Racing driver said Hendrick “plays games” with NASCAR rules. Larson said the Henrick cars start the year bad to “show NASCAR that they’re being nice and cooperating”, but then in a couple of months “they start cheating and finding speed.”
Later that day, Larson apologized with a note on Twitter, saying his comments were in jest. On Friday at Las Vegas, Larson said he had a conversation with Hendrick to explain himself further.
“I spoke with Mr. Hendrick and just talked that over and apologized and let him know there was no harm meant behind it,” Larson said. “It just came across wrong on my part. So, yeah, I felt bad about that, but we’re both moving on and are here this weekend to race and hopefully have the same speed we had last week.”
Chip Ganassi Racing uses Hendrick engines.
Larson said he does not know Rick Hendrick well, however, the champion team owner will occasionally text him with a kind word.
“He’s always been very nice to me,” said Larson.
The 26-year-old believes he can continue to be genuine – but maybe with a more careful choice of words.
“Maybe I should buy myself a Thesaurus or something,” Larson joked.
Larson has received a mixture of praise and criticism in recent years for his outspoken nature. He’s offered an opinion on such things as calling himself the last true racer (Richmond, 2017), saying he would like to see CGR invest more money in their superspeedway cars (Talladega, 2018), and has openly admitted his love of dirt racing and its major races being bigger than Daytona.
“Obviously I think I could do a lot better job than I have sometimes,” Larson said of the challenges of being candid while remaining diplomatic. “I think people like that I speak my mind, but I think I can speak my mind in a better way sometimes, and choose my words a little bit more wisely.
“I want to be who I am, and I think fans and media members appreciate that. But at the same time, yeah, I think in our sport you have to be a little bit more thoughtful before you speak sometimes. That’s something I need to get better at, and I’ll work hard to do that. I don’t want to lose who I am, but at the same time I need to not get myself in trouble sometimes.”