Kevin Harvick criticizes Kyle Larson's race strategy

Kevin Harvick stresses that any conflicts and misunderstandings should be resolved outside NASCAR tracks.

by Sead Dedovic
Kevin Harvick criticizes Kyle Larson's race strategy
© Adam Glanzman/Getty Images Sport

Kyle Larson did not provoke positive reactions with his move at the Nashville Cup Series race a few days ago. Ross Chastain and Kyle Larson were battling for the lead, but Larson wrecked into Ross Chastain, causing anger from many. Chastain had every right to be upset, considering he was so close to success, but unfortunately, his dreams were ruined much earlier. Kevin Harvick was one of those who immediately reacted to Larson's move, considering him the main culprit.

Harvick as an experienced person, and a man who has many races behind him, is not happy with the performances of Larson and his moves.

“I don’t even think that was the right place to wreck him. You can’t be bumper to bumper like that pushing him into the corner. You’re not just going to push those tanks out of the way.“-Harvick said on Kevin Harvick’s Happy Hour podcast.

Kevin Harvick stresses that any conflicts and misunderstandings should be resolved outside NASCAR tracks, not during races. Larson is a respected driver with a great track record. Instances like this can only worsen his standing in NASCAR and tarnish his reputation. Kevin also had the opportunity to compete with Larson, emphasizing that this is not Larson's usual driving style. Larson could have certainly achieved much more in this race, but his mindset and plans were somewhat different.

“I think in those scenarios — and I had this conversation with some of our younger drivers a couple weeks ago — I said, ‘Look, when you’re in a position to win the race, that’s not when you settle the score.’ I think you try to win the race first and settle the score later, because I still believe that Kyle Larson could have won that race if he would have raced like Kyle Larson. I think he was trying to force the issue on something that was not how he would have done it typically.”- Kevin Harvick continued.

Ross Chastain and Denny Hamlin

Ross Chastain and Denny Hamlin were the leaders and it was expected their fight could end in some incident. Many give predictions about what would have happened if Larson had acted differently and had a different style. Many outcomes could happen, but Harvick points out one that makes a lot of sense.

Kevin Harvick points out that at that moment, Ross Chastain didn't have the same competitive advantage as Denny Hamlin, and he had effectively defended his position against Hamlin until then. Harvick suggests that Larson could have benefitted from letting the situation unfold naturally, allowing Chastain and Hamlin to battle it out and potentially positioning himself to capitalize on any outcome. 

Harvick finds Larson's actions uncharacteristic, speculating that external pressures might have influenced his decision. He stresses that such situations can often be managed without the need for aggressive maneuvers.

Kyle Larson is an experienced driver, and he acted very naively in this situation. Patience is sometimes crucial if you want to be at the top, and Larson lacked such a thing. The 31-year-old spoiled the plans for himself, and created an even bigger problem for himself.

Kevin Harvick on Larson's driving style

Kevin Harvick analyzed the situation involving Larson, stressing that Larson seemed intent on forcefully displacing the car numbered 11. Harvick observed that Larson deviated from his usual racing style and attempted maneuvers that were uncharacteristic for him, such as hitting the apron and inadvertently causing an incident involving car number 1 and several others. Instead of sticking to his typical approach of passing cleanly and strategically, Larson appeared to succumb to external pressures, potentially leading to trouble for others on the track.

Kyle Larson
Kyle Larson© Sean Gardner/Getty Images Sport

Harvick went on to point out that this could be an important lesson for Larson when it comes to the next races. Although it's sometimes challenging to race under pressure, given the desire to succeed, Harvick expects Larson to change tactics in the coming races. 

Larson understood that in this way, it is difficult to achieve the desired result. The pressure that individuals feel in NASCAR often leads to these kinds of outcomes, and scenarios that no one wants to see. Larson's hunger for success is sometimes greater than anything else. In such moments it is difficult to think rationally and quickly, which leads to various scenarios in this sport.

No one is used to Larson acting this way, given that aggressiveness is not a characteristic we are used to seeing from him. Likely, he will not allow himself to be in such situations again, aware of the risks that could follow. The 31-year-old is a driver about whom we do not have to waste words, given that he will surely come back stronger from everything.

Kevin Harvick Kyle Larson