Thursday, March 30, 2017
Here Comes The Bride!
DW has taken to calling him The California Kid. Kevin Harvick claims he's the best young driver since Jeff Gordon. I personally think that it's jumping the gun to leap-frog Kyle Larson over Jimmie Johnson, 7-time champion, on the strength of his career so far, as promising as it appears to be, but I won't quarrel with the general idea of his superior skill behind the wheel.
I've had my eye on Kyle ever since he appeared on the scene. He took my fancy even before he came to Cup and I told everyone - "watch Larson, he's a comer". I've always had him pegged as my Number One driver whenever Jimmie retires. I really, really like Chase Elliott but I root just a little bit harder for Kyle because my heart is always with the underdog. I tend to have a special fondness for the drivers who had to scratch and claw their way to the top series versus those who had a glide path to success, thanks to being NASCAR royalty. That's not to say that glide path is a sure thing. You still have to have the talent to go with it but let's face it - being intimately familiar with the tracks and the players and the terms since you were a child can't help but be an advantage. Having parents who can and will sponsor you is a helluva head start. And anyone has to admit that Ganassi, while a good team, is a far cry from being handed Jeff Gordon's very car by Rick Hendrick. More power to those who inherited that head start but there's no question that it was harder for the boys who came from nowhere - like Jimmie and Kevin and....Kyle.
Larson's parents told him from the beginning that they would do what they could but they didn't have the money to ensure him a ride. If he got to where he wanted to go, he was going to have to to it on talent and determination. He made the transition from Sprint cars to NASCAR with hardly a stumble.
This week had to be vindication for him. The pay-off for all the sacrifices his parents had made. The
validation of Chip Ganassi's belief in him. He said in Victory Lane that he'd heard and read all the remarks that had been made - "yeah, three seconds in a row but does the kid know how to win?"
He proved that he know how to win, coming home first in both the Xfinity race and the Monster Cup race. Yes, it was a good week to be Kyle Larson....and a Kyle Larson fan.
Oh, my, all the anti-Jimmie people were out in force on the boards this week. Did you hear what he and Chad did? Having wrecked their primary car, they chose to take the time to work on the back up, rather than making a qualifying run. Chad said he didn't want to send Jimmie out there for a hot lap in a car that hadn't ever been on the track. But conspiracy-minded fans knew that wasn't the real reason. The real reason was that it meant Jimmie could start the race on new tires. Ha!Ha! The Devious Duo might try to fool some people but we're too smart for them! (Of course, by playing it that way, it also meant that the 48 didn't get to have any say in their pit stall selection which might be seen as as much of a disadvantage as new tires were an advantage). Lots of folks thought NASCAR should have punished them - fined them or booted them from the race or I don't know, maybe hung them from the leaderboard as an example to other would-be cheaters.