Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott are the current top two drivers for Hendrick Motorsports and two of NASCAR’s top drivers in the prime of their careers. Whoever finally tops the all-time wins list could be one of the next big long-term head-to-head battles in sports.
At 30, Larson is the older of the two, and Elliot is only 27, but both have the same number of full-time seasons on their resumes. His 19 career Cup wins in his series are one ahead of him at the moment over Elliott, but both are well set to increase their totals significantly over the next few years. It has been.
Kyle Larson spent years at Chip Ganassi Racing before breaking out at Hendrick Motorsports
Larson’s career got off to a rather slow start. He spent his first six full-time campaigns in his No. 42 car of his racing chip Ganassi, taking six wins. He only had one multiple-winning season in his 2017 as he made his four Victory Lane appearances. .
NASCAR suspended Larson for the rest of the season. After CGR fired him, he was a free agent at the time and allowed Hendrick Motorsports, the winningest organization in the history of the sport, to add Larson to their 2021 lineup.
Larson seized his chance and dominated the series in a way not seen since Jeff Gordon’s heyday. Larson won his 10th race, a series-high, and won the championship, leading 2,581 laps, breaking Gordon’s 1995 record for most laps in a season.
The title-winning season passed Larson on the series win list over incumbent and then-defending champion Elliott.
Chase Elliott has all Cup Series success with Hendrick Motorsports
Elliott has been with HMS since making his series debut in 2015 at the age of 19 over five races. In his third full-time in 2018 midway through his season, it took him eleven wins, although it took him a long time to get his series win in the first cup. From that point until a championship victory at Phoenix Raceway in November 2020.
Elliott won only two races during Larson’s championship season the following year, but in 2022 he won five to Larson’s three and entered Championship Four, placing Larson seventh in the playoff standings. It’s over.
The pair also collided occasionally on the track. While battling for the lead at Auto Club Speedway during the second race of the 2022 campaign, Larson claimed Elliot was invisible as the 2020 champion attempted to make an outside pass on the frontstretch.
Larson was late and blocked, putting Elliott in the outside wall with 21 laps to go. Larson held on to win the race, but Elliott finished two laps in 26th place.
The drama between the two exploded again in August when they lined up front row for a five-lap restart at the Watkins Glen International Road Course in upstate New York. Larson went deep into Turn 1 and pushed Elliott out of the ditch. Larson also won that race, with Elliott finishing fourth.
Without those two incidents, Elliott could lead Larson on the 20-17 wins leaderboard.
Either way, these two are set to compete at the highest level for a long time to come. Elliott signed a contract extension in February that would keep him in the No. 9 car until at least 2027. Larson signed a contract extension in September that will keep him in the No. 5 car until at least 2026.
Larson vs. Elliott could be the sport’s greatest battle, especially as HMS engineers and team members learn more about what makes next-generation cars work best.
Larson Elliott could be the next Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson rival at HMS
The potential teammate rivalry harkens back to the battle between Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson a generation ago. Although they had a similar age gap (Gordon is four years older than Johnson), Gordon had already reached the incredible heights of his Hall of Fame career before Johnson made his debut. rice field.
Gordon had already won four championships and won 58 races before Johnson emerged as a full-time Cup Series driver in 2002. As a part-timer with Petty GMS Racing, he has a chance to reach 83 wins.
It may be difficult for two drivers to rack up such wins, as next-gen cars require single-source parts that each team doesn’t manufacture. But Larson and Elliott still have the talent and resources of HMS to be the main stars of his next decade in the sport.
Which driver tops the all-time wins list will be one of the fascinating career stories for the two potential NASCAR Hall of Famers along with Gordon and Johnson.