Kyle Larson: ‘It was positive to have that talk’ with Chase Elliott after Watkins Glen frustration

Kyle Larson -- driving a No. 5 test car with a windshield banner for teammate William Byron -- talks with his crew during Day 1 of the Martinsville Speedway organizational test
Adam Fenwick
NASCAR Digital Media

Editor’s note: Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson will be spotlighted in USA Network’s new unscripted series “Race for the Championship” airing this fall. The first episode is Thursday, Sept. 1, at 10 p.m. ET/PT. Watch the trailer here.


MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Kyle Larson won last Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series event at Watkins Glen International, but it was at the expense of his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott.

Elliott, who restarted in the lead with five laps left in the Go Bowling at The Glen, lost the lead and ultimately the race when Larson made contact with Elliott’s No. 9 Chevrolet in the first corner of the 2.45-mile road course and Elliott ran wide.

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While Larson was celebrating in Victory Lane, Elliott was visibly upset on pit road after the race following a fourth-place finish.

On Monday, the two hashed out their differences during the weekly Hendrick Motorsports competition meeting.

“I wish things would have I guess played out differently and Monday would have been a lot better for me,” Larson said during a break in Tuesday’s organizational test at Martinsville Speedway. “It was productive. In the end, it was positive to have that talk. I’m ready to just move on from it and look forward to Daytona and on into the playoffs.”

The victory at Watkins Glen was Larson’s second of the season but first since his victory at Auto Club Speedway on Feb. 27, a stretch of 22 races for the defending NASCAR Cup Series champion.

Elliott, who clinched the regular season championship at Watkins Glen and the bonus points that go with it, did most of the talking during the competition meeting according to Larson.

“I took most of it in,” Larson said.

Elliott also believed the competition meeting was a productive one, but said his main takeaway from it pertained to maintaining his efficiency at road courses.

“I thought it went great,” Elliott said on Wednesday. “We talked through our race weekend, where I felt we needed to be better as the No. 9 team and how we want to improve going back [to Watkins Glen] next year and the Roval as it pertains to 2022. We still have more road racing ahead and I think we could be better.”

Alex Bowman, who was also on hand for the organizational test at Martinsville, added that with Larson and Elliott being two of the best road-course competitors in NASCAR, something like what happened Sunday was eventually inevitable.

“Things on the race track are bound to happen when you have, in that scenario, two of the best guys on road courses restarting out front racing for wins,” Bowman said. “You do it enough times, eventually something is going to happen.

“I think we’re all going to work great together in the future. On my side, that’s no different than any other week.”

Elliott is already moving forward from his contact with Larson at Watkins Glen. He knows the cars provided by Hendrick Motorsports are strong enough to win races at road courses but stressed that execution must be better on all fronts so he and his team can celebrate more wins and a second championship together.

“There’s nothing to be fixed,” Elliott said. “When you sit back and look at the reality of the situation, we finished fourth and we weren’t good enough to win. That’s what it really comes down to. We need to be faster and do a better job of finishing off the races.”

In the end, Larson said that the frustration Elliott felt comes down to the fact that they both want to win every race they enter. For his part, Larson says that next time he finds himself in that situation, he needs to be a little more courteous.

“One thing is for sure, we all like to win. We try really hard to do that,” Larson said. “In the end, I probably should have a little more respect next time.”