Rick Hendrick knew that Kyle Larson was talented. After all, he watched Larson win NASCAR races (before signing him) as well as dirt racing all over the country.
However, now that Hendrick has a front-row seat to Larson’s success, the Hall of Fame team owner sees something familiar. Sunday night, after Larson dominated the Coca-Cola 600 for his second win of the season, Hendrick didn’t hesitate when asked if Larson’s driving style reminded him of anyone.
“Tim Richmond,” Hendrick said.
Richmond was a star who never had the chance to fully shine in NASCAR, passing away from AIDS in August of 1989. But in his short career, Richmond made sure everyone from fans and drivers knew he was there. Considered a larger-than-life character with a bright personality, Richmond won 13 races, nine of which came while driving for Hendrick.
Hendrick has always described Richmond as having unbelievable car control. A characteristic that Hendrick sees in Larson.
“(He will) put a car in places that you don’t think it’ll go and having fun and wanting to win, wanting to lead every lap,” said Hendrick. “He just reminds me a lot of Tim. All of our guys have unique talent, but he is a racer.
“I look at William [Byron] and how far William has come. William, every single week, he’s been there. I think they’re just getting stronger together. But Kyle has probably got more racing experience than the other guys. He races everything there is to race, and he says it makes him better. When you climb in any kind of car and go to a track and win when you’ve got the guys that win all the races there, I think he’s made a statement of how much talent he has.”
Hendrick already knew Larson had talent, but he did admit to being surprised at how quickly the No. 5 team has put everything together. At Charlotte, a track that Larson had previously led just 20 laps, Larson swept all three stages and led 327 of 400 laps.
Win No. 269 wouldn’t be possible without some of our winning drivers. pic.twitter.com/oWgGn05Hkh
— Hendrick Motorsports (@TeamHendrick) May 31, 2021
Larson is the first driver to break the 1,000 laps led mark (1,105) this season. He leads the series in laps led, and has racked up 726 of those in just the last five races. Larson also leads the series in stage wins (nine).
“He’s been through a lot, and to see him come out here and run like that and make a statement and show his talent, I’m just excited that he just really feels good and really has a great vibe right now with him and Cliff [Daniels],” said Hendrick. “I’m looking for a lot of wins the rest of this year.”