FONTANA, Calif. — Denny Hamlin conjured up a name from “Days of Thunder” when talking about his golf buddy Kyle Larson.
The debate was simple. Is it better for a driver to know his race car from the ground up, as Kyle Busch does, or is it better for a driver to leave all the mechanics and setup to his crew chief, as Kyle Larson does.
Busch often suggests specific changes to crew chief Adam Stevens. Larson remains deliberately and blithely uninformed about the workings of the car.
“I’ve talked to both of them pretty often, between Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson,” said Hamlin, who has been Busch’s teammate at Joe Gibbs Racing for more than a decade. “Larson is definitely the Cole Trickle. He just gets in and drives. He has no idea what’s going on within the car — and that style works, and he’s fast, and he’s really, really talented.
“Kyle Busch, when I hear him talking in debriefs, he’s very downloaded into ‘The right front has this feel. It’s got too much load, not enough load, this, that and the other.’ Some crew chiefs could maybe be overwhelmed with that. I think he’s got a great pairing with Adam. He understands (Kyle) when he’s saying what he’s saying.”
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If Busch and Larson are the two extremes, Hamlin considers himself more of a blend of styles.
“I think I’m kind of an in-between guy, to be honest with you,” said the most recent Daytona 500 winner. “There are so many different ways to do it. (Teammate) Martin (Truex Jr.) is kind of an in-between guy as well, but Kyle is certainly more detail-oriented with the car itself.”