Although Hendrick Motorsports had much to leave Auto Club Speedway feeling good about, the vibe between Hendrick teammates Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott was less than desirable. Battling for the lead in the final laps, Elliott hit the outside wall with his No. 9 car after Larson moved up the track in a move that appeared to be a deliberate attempt to block Elliott’s bid to make the pass. After going on to score the win, Larson denied intentionally crowding Elliott, however.
“I had a run, so I went to peel off, and as soon as I peeled off, my spotter is yelling, ‘Outside! Outside! Outside!’” Larson said. “And I had no clue he (Elliott) was even coming. Yeah, I mean, I hate that I ended his day … but it was just an honest mistake on probably both of our faults. I should have had more awareness in my mirror. My spotter could have told me he was coming with a big run, and we would have avoided that mess. It happened, and I hate that it did. I know they’re upset. But we’ll talk, and hopefully we’ll get on the same page. I would never run into my teammate or block him that aggressively and that late on purpose.”
Elliott, who limped to a 26th-place finish with a damaged race car, lit up his in-car radio with an expletive-filled tirade after the contact with Larson ruined his day. Will the two teammates be able to bury the hatchet before this weekend’s race in Las Vegas or might some payback be coming? Hendrick Motorsports general manager Jeff Andrews plans on cooler heads prevailing.
“I think certainly nothing intentional there by Kyle, and we’ll go back and talk about it in our meetings, and we’ll look at all the facts, and we’ll look at what happened, and we’ll talk about it as a company,” Andrews said. “At the end of the day, we’re going to — as we always do — we’ll do the right things for the company and get ready to go to Las Vegas in a good spot for, really, everybody.”