Kyle Larson Confesses “Cheap and Awkward” Pocono Incident
May Affect Friendship With Denny Hamlin
LONG POND, Pa. – Kyle Larson’s rebound from an early spin went for naught Sunday at Pocono Raceway after an unfriendly push up the track sent him from second to a 20th-place finish in the HighPoint.com 400. Despite a Lap 46 slide, Larson found himself on the outside of the front row on a restart with eight laps remaining. A shove from Denny Hamlin launched Larson to the lead entering Turn 1, but Hamlin dove to Larson’s left on corner entry and drew alongside the No. 5 Chevrolet. Hamlin drifted high on corner exit, forcing Larson wide – with apparent slight door-to-door contact – and into the outside SAFER barrier on the Long Pond Straightaway. When the yellow flag flew for Justin Haley’s crash in the next corner, Larson pulled up alongside Hamlin’s car and brushed him on the frontstretch as the field slowed.
Hamlin went on to score a record seventh Pocono victory, his 50th career win and the 600th national series triumph for Toyota. Larson was relegated to a 20th-place finish. The move was eerily similar to the move Hamlin used on Ross Chastain at the 2.5-mile triangular track one year ago, when Chastain slammed the wall, spun and exited the race prematurely in 2022. Larson was plenty conscious of that going into Turn 1. “I was nervous of the move that happened because he made it work on Ross last year and he dirtied him up,” Larson said. “He knows and Ross deserved it last year for all the times that he got into Denny. “I felt like I didn’t. I deserved to be raced with respect at least through Turn 1. But he knew that was gonna be his only opportunity to beat me with how bad dirty air was. So I got used up.” Hamlin, on the other hand, believed his car never touched Larson’s and simply forced the 2021 Cup champion into a choice. “How can you wreck someone you don’t touch?” Hamlin said. “They make a decision to either let off the gas and race side-by-side, or hit the gas and hit the wall. I mean, I put them to those decisions. I didn’t overshoot the corner. I was behind them. I tried to get position on them. I knew it was going to be tight off of two, but always made sure I left a lane or more – more than a lane.
“These Next Gen cars, for whatever reason, you get in that spot near the car on the outside, it sends them very tight. It just tightens their aero balance. Everyone knows it. You know, Kyle is one of the best aero blockers in our field. I knew once he got the lead and it was green, there’s just no way I was gonna go around him and so I just backed off and just waited and tried not to burn up my (expletive) for a restart later because he knows how to put you in a situation to just kill your car.” This isn’t the first time Larson and Hamlin have battled one-on-one for the win. In May, the duo fought for the victory at Kansas Speedway – which resulted in contact from Hamlin that sent Larson into the wall. The two are friends off-track, but Larson’s frustration lingered longer Sunday afternoon. “We’ve had a handful of run-ins. I’ve never had to reach out to apologize,” Larson said. “He’s always been the one that’s reached out to me and been like, ‘Hey, man, sorry. You know, I messed up there a little bit or sorry I put you in a bad spot, whatever. Sorry I hurt your day.’ I’ve never had to do that to him.
“Sure, maybe there’s been times where he’s been frustrated with me. But I’ve never hurt his results. You know, I should have at least been top two. I finished (20th). In my eyes, I mean, hey, I could have 10 more playoff points, two more wins right now if not for the 11. So yeah, I’m pissed. I should be.” Hamlin disagreed that the two have had “run-ins,” but acknowledged past incidents where they’ve collided. “I got in the back of him at Atlanta (in 2022) trying to push him,” Hamlin said. “That’s in a draft. We’re drafting. So that was a draft gone bad. And then like once again, we’re racing for the win at Kansas and he gets in the fence, comes off the fence and I tagged him in the left rear.
“I mean, I get it. I know (where) you guys are trying to go with this. But you know, I’ve been on the (bad) end of so many of these results. And when it comes to getting (win No.) 50 for me, 600 for Toyota, I’m going to make sure that I drive as hard as I possibly can – and respectful. That’s why I left him more than a lane off the Turn 2.” But asked if he raced Larson with respect at Pocono, Hamlin was incredulous. “We’re racing for the win. Are you (kidding) me?” he said. “For sure, I mean, if I’m gonna give anyone in the field respect, it’s Kyle Larson just because I respect him as a race car driver and I think he’s probably the best. So certainly, he’s got my respect, but damn, I mean, we’re all racing for a win and I guarantee you, roles reversed, it goes the same way.” Still, Larson doesn’t anticipate much change in their relationship, noting Hamlin “races me like a (jerk)” but that he’s still a friend and separates what happens on-track from off-track life well. But he admitted he’s unsure when enough is enough. “As we’ve all heard him say, eventually he has to race a certain way to get some respect back,” Larson said. “I’m an aggressive racer, I get it. But I tend to race my friends with more respect. But I just feel like I haven’t gotten that respect from him, especially this year.”
Mike MarlarMike Marlar
“The Winfield Warrior”“Warrior”
Hard Charges to $15,000 Ponderosa WoO Triumph
Collects Seventh Win of 2023 from 22nd-Starting Position
WINFIELD, Tenn. (07/17/23) – Despite being mired 22nd on the starting grid for the main event, Mike Marlar persevered in Friday night’s World of Outlaws (WoO) CASE Late Model Series event at Kentucky’s Ponderosa Speedway.
He methodically worked through the field and took the lead with just five laps remaining on his way to the $15,000 triumph in the Johnny Mulligan Classic. The dazzling display increased his 2023-win total to seven with his Delk Equipment Sales / Petroff Towing No. 157 Can-Am Auto Salvage / Mesilla Valley Transportation / Longhorn Chassis / Clements Racing Engines Inc. Super Late Model.
“You know my team never gives up man, I got such a great team and sponsors,” Marlar said. “My guys, you know, they never quit on me, so I try to never quit on them. You just never know (if you’re going to win). Everything was lining up, Kyle (Bronson) had that flat, Squirrel (Brian Shirley) was having problems when I passed him and when it’s your day, it’s your day. Again, just ‘thank you’ to all the great people who keep my going in circles every week.” Mike Marlar took the Delk Equipment Sales No. 157 Super Late Model into battle with the World of Outlaws (WoO) Case Late Model Series on Friday night at Ponderosa Speedway (Junction City, Ky.) for the Johnny Mulligan Classic. With a sixth-place finish in his heat relegating him into a B-Main, Mike snuck into feature with a third-place run in his consolation event.
Slowly working his way forward from the 11th row, Marlar overtook pacesetter Bobby Pierce on lap 46 and led the final five circuits to capture his seventh win of the season and second of the 2023 campaign at the Kentucky oval. He pocketed a $15,000 payday ahead of Pierce, Brandon Sheppard, Chris Madden, and Tanner English. Earlier in the week, Marlar competed with the XR Super Series on Monday at Dubuque Speedway (Dubuque, Iowa) for the Dubuque Key City Clash. Following a second-place finish in his heat, Mike rallied after a lap-46 spin to finish 13th in the 50-lapper. Mike Marlar Racing would like to thank their great marketing partners, which include Delk Equipment, Bilstein, Delk Marlar Racing Development, Can-Am Auto Salvage, Mesilla Valley Transportation, Petroff Towing, Paulson Stussy Construction, Total Power, PEM, VP Racing, Longhorn Chassis, Midwest Sheet Metal, Arizona Sport Shirts, GottaRace.com, Bell Helmets, Hoosier Tire, K1 Race Gear, Swift Springs, Winning Edge Carburetors, Allstar Performance, XS Power Batteries, Gorsuch Performance Solutions, PRO-FABrication Headers & Exhaust, Earnhardt Technologies Group, Wiles Driveshafts, Capital Signs, Stanley Best Heating & Air, JSR Properties LLC, PPM Racing Products, FK Rod Ends, Accu-Force Shock Dyno, Performance Bodies & Parts, Wilwood Disc Brakes, Winters Rearends, and MyRacePass Marketing Services. For the latest information on Delk Marlar Racing Development and Mike Marlar Racing please visit the team website at www.MikeMarlar.com . PR Contact: Ben Shelton (email@example.com)