Kyle Larson getting his first win since his reinstatement didn’t take too long. After multiple weeks in a row of solid runs, Larson has obviously found a car that will keep him near the front of the pack consistently.
I think that after this time last year, many of us wondered if this was a sight we’d ever see again. There were multiple questions after his controversy. Would Larson ever be reinstated, would he ever get a decent ride again, or would he just retire from NASCAR altogether and race off into the sunset in a sprint car?
His current situation is probably the best scenario that could’ve played out for him. Getting a ride on an elite team after only a year hiatus is a pretty enviable spot to be in for most drivers. Larson having such a quick turnaround after what he did is probably enviable to any pro athlete, because you better believe if he was in the NFL or NBA he’d have a much more difficult time readjusting. I’d say Kyle Larson has had it pretty easy honestly and has faced less scrutiny for saying the n-word than Bubba Wallace has for speaking out on social injustices.
His biggest issue at the moment is the fact that he’s running with little to no sponsorship. He came into the season with his only support coming from Rick Hendrick and won his first race with his boss’ name on the car.
Larson’s situation is rare because most drivers no matter how talented they are a stuck without rides because of their lack of funding. Hendrick has pretty much decided to sign Larson and hope that the funding comes later, which I can respect. My only worry is what if the sponsorship doesn’t come rolling in, even with wins?
After Larson won, I was expecting him to get out of the car and be elated and overflow with emotion. I mean, after the journey he has had, it just seems natural. But, he got out of his car and while he was obviously happy, he was just as bland as he always has been.
Let me be clear, I don’t care how he chooses to celebrate. The issue is when you are a guy who desperately needs to convince brands to get behind you and throw funding at you, not having a personality is not going to help.
So, you have Kyle Larson who is obviously talented and a championship contender, but coming off a year where he said the one word that can destroy a life and he doesn’t have a personality that is relatable nor one that a brand can use him as an ambassador for. Eventually, something has to give.
Maybe Rick Hendrick is prepared to fund Larson’s career, but realistically he’s going to eventually have to get funding for that car. Obviously, someone will eventually take a chance on Larson, but who knows how long that will take.
We’re living in a world where companies have to be socially aware, and most of the companies that can afford to sponsor Cup cars – especially Hendrick Motorsports cars – are the ones that do have to take things like that into consideration.
Again, eventually, Larson will find some help. But he isn’t helping himself with his uberly laid-back personality.