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Boxed in by pit strategy, Truex happy to finish fourth
RELATED: Race results " Detailed breakdown " Driver standings FONTANA, Calif. -- When Corey LaJoie's brush with the Turn 2 wall brought out the sixth of seven cautions on Lap 192 of a scheduled 200 , Martin Truex Jr. and crew chief Cole Pearn gambled. They stayed out on old tires for a restart on Lap 196, but only two other drivers -- Denny Hamlin and Jamie McMurray -- followed suit. That left race winner Kyle Larson in the fourth starting position, and one lap after the resumption of action, he had the lead. Truex considered himself fortunate to hold onto fourth place on old rubber, after the race went to overtime and extended two laps beyond its posted distance. "It was definitely not the situation we wanted to be in, but we thought more guys would stay out there (under the sixth caution)," said Truex, who led 73 laps, second only to Larson's 110. "I think we only ran a few laps. It was definitely a disadvantage at the end and just really tight. "Holding on for fourth was good for points. Overall, it was a good day for everybody. We just had that one pit stop and I slid a little bit -- a foot or so further than I had all day. The guys got the air hose caught on the splitter and we lost six spots or whatever it was (during a stop under caution on Lap 181). All in all, it was a good day, and we ran up front and led laps. The 42 (Larson) and I felt like we were the class of the field -- he just got it done, and we didn't." &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;
RCR, Menards renew partnership in XFINITY Series
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! WELCOME, N.C. -- Looking to continue building success both on and off the track, Menards has renewed its partnership with Richard Childress Racing 's NASCAR XFINITY Series program for a fifth year. Menards will serve as a primary sponsor for select races throughout the 2017 season with Paul Menard and Ben Kennedy driving the No. 2 Chevrolet and Brandon Jones in the No. 33 Chevrolet. "We are excited that the 2017 season is upon us," said Jeff Abbott, Menards spokesperson. "We look forward to once again partnering with RCR, Paul Menard , Ben Kennedy and Brandon Jones in the XFINITY Series, and having three quality race car drivers working hard as teammates and competitors. Our tremendous group of racing partners look forward to seeing Paul, Ben and Brandon in Victory Lane." Menard will be back behind the wheel of the No. 2 Menards /Richmond Chevrolet Camaro for select XFINITY Series races during the 2017 season, while also competing full-time in the No. 27 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series for RCR. The Eau Claire, Wisconsin, native has a strong history of success in the XFINITY Series, having captured three wins, six pole awards, 38 top-five and 93 top-10 finishes. Twenty-year-old Brandon Jones and the No. 33 Chevrolet Camaro also will be carrying the Menards banner again alongside the Menard's No. 2 Chevrolet. The Atlanta native qualified for the inaugural XFINITY Series Chase last season, while securing 17 top-11 finishes, to end 2016 10th in the XFINITY Series points standings and third in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings. As RCR's full-time driver of the No. 33 Chevrolet Camaro in the XFINITY Series, Jones is prepared to turn all that he learned and accomplished in his rookie year into consistently high performances throughout his sophomore season. Ben Kennedy , coming to RCR from the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series , also will pilot the No. 2 Menards Chevrolet Camaro at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 15. The 25-year-old made his XFINITY Series debut last season with RCR at Iowa Speedway , in which he secured a 10th place finish, and will compete in select races in the No. 2 Chevrolet throughout the 2017 season. " Menards continues to showcase their commitment and dedication to both RCR and the NASCAR XFINITY Series with the renewed support for Paul Menard , Brandon Jones and Ben Kennedy ," said Richard Childress, CEO and Chairman of Richard Childress Racing . "It's great to feature such a winning company and their variety of vendor-partners both on and off the track and we hope to continue their success this season." Since the 1970s, Menards has a strong history as a racing sponsor, which includes a win in the 2011 Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with driver Paul Menard . A family-owned company started in 1960 and headquartered in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Menards has 305 retail store locations throughout the Midwest.
Sponsor sync: ThorSport, Menards rebuild after fire
RELATED: Full schedule for Daytona Speedweeks ThorSport Racing's 2016 campaign will be remembered as a season of recovery, overcoming the trials of a mid-June fire at its Sandusky, Ohio, headquarters. The blaze sparked a gutsy fight through the balance of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule, with the four-team operation scrapping and improvising to fulfill its full-season mandate. Little more than seven months have passed since the hardship, but ThorSport is on the verge of seeing the rebuilding effort through to completion. Credit the organization's pluck and perseverance, but also a serendipitous sponsor relationship. Menards , a Midwestern home improvement chain, was instrumental in helping ThorSport's reconstruction project, providing the materials and blueprints for rebuilding a significant portion of the team's 100,000-square-foot home. The Eau Claire, Wisconsin-based business returns for the 13th season of its long-running association with ThorSport's No. 88 Toyota and driver Matt Crafton , a two-time series champion. That sponsor and team coalesce in such a mutually beneficial way has helped the Duke and Rhonda Thorson-owned team operate at virtually full strength with the season just weeks away from kicking off at Daytona. " Menards has always been more than just a decal on the side of my Toyota Tundra," Crafton said in a release provided by the team. "They have been a true marketing partner, and I'm honored to continue this partnership with them for the 13th consecutive season. For them to provide a hands-on approach, and be so involved in the rebuild of our shop, was truly remarkable. "From planning, to execution, to building materials, they have been an asset to the entire project. It speaks volumes on their commitment not only to me, and this No. 88 team, but the entire organization." Crafton had won two races and one pole position in the first seven events of last season, before the fire forced ThorSport to find alternate locations to prep its trucks. The ensuing scramble took its toll, with Crafton admitting, "I knew it was going to hurt us, but I had no idea it was going to hurt us as bad as it did." RELATED: ThorSport drew strength during recovery The organization used a supermarket parking lot as a makeshift workplace for several days and spent time at a trailer manufacturing facility before receiving a helping hand from Ohio sprint car racer Chris Andrews in the form of shop space. All the while, ThorSport and Menards specialists collaborated to restore the most heavily damaged sections of the shop -- a rear portion that housed the fabrication and machine shop departments. George Sharp -- the operations manager for the racing team's parent company, ThorWorks Industries -- said an engineer from Menards was sent to work directly with the team's building contractor. Furthermore, the materials and plans for the rebuilt section of the shop came from a packaged kit available at Menards . "With this happening in the middle of the season, the goal was to get the team back in the shop as soon as possible," Sharp said. "Day by day, the team started moving back into portions of the shop. We expect the rebuild to be completed around the end of January. There is absolutely no way we could have made that happen without the help of Menards ." The restoration has included upgrades -- a more efficient layout and additional windows for improved lighting. Crafton indicated that only final touches remain before ThorSport opens its 22nd season in the Camping World Truck Series, intent on moving forward and ending a winless streak that stretches back to last spring. "It's going to be a huge motivator," Crafton said. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Richard Petty sparkles in Hollywood while receiving prestigious award
LOS ANGELES -- The bright orange hues of the setting sun lingered over the California coastline last Thursday evening, casting an appropriate illumination on the Hollywood hilltops in the distance and onto one of Los Angeles’ most distinctive treasures in the forefront, the Petersen Automotive Museum. Sitting on famous Wilshire Boulevard, the building's modern chrome-look design is head turning even in a city known for high profile. And inside it is one of the most impressive automotive collections in the world -- the Louvre for car lovers. On this night at this appropriate location, NASCAR’s "King" Richard Petty was honored with the Robert E. Petersen Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to auto racing and for raising the profile of the American automobile. Equally important, it was a wonderful chance to celebrate Petty's upcoming 80th birthday on July 2 with a large cake and an eager banquet room of singers. The evening's host and museum’s founding chairman Bruce Meyer welcomed the large crowd, revealing with a smile, "It's the first time having a King here." Almost 300 people were on hand to honor Petty, and there was no mistaking the eclectic attendance -- NASCAR's most treasured, old-school hero being feted by Southern California's coolest and hippest car lovers. Good vibes, as they say out here. "Richard Petty's an icon in our sport, the Frances, the people that built the sport," said retired racer Donnie Allison, an invited guest of Petty's for the evening. "Richard Petty is without a doubt the most noted name in all of racing. It doesn't make a difference who you know or who you talk to. "Bobby (Allison) and I were on an airplane coming out here and sitting next to a guy who asked us what we did. I said that we raced and he said, I don't know anything about racing but I know who Richard Petty is. "What does that say?" Before the formal sit-down dinner, seven-time NASCAR champion Petty joined four-time champ Jeff Gordon to film an interview for FOX Sports. With the famous "Hollywood" sign landmark in the distance, Petty smiled at Gordon and they discussed his family's "redneck engineering." "There was no book, everything was new," Petty told Gordon. "We were so dedicated to working on those cars, we didn't know if it was night or day." Dressed in a black suit and wearing one of his trademark black, feathered cowboy hats and black boots, Petty settled in for the casual time with Gordon and they talked about everything from receiving this unique honor to Petty's favorite winning hardware. "I've got them everywhere," 15-time Martinsville winner Petty said, smiling about the track's famous grandfather clock trophy. With seven NASCAR titles and 200 wins, Petty could not be more revered, and seeing him celebrated in this unique setting seemed not only genuinely appreciated by him, but also a true gift to the crowd. "I'm pretty sure he's signed more autographs than any person in the history of the world," road racing champion Tommy Kendall said, smiling. "Seriously, he's been famous for a long, long time." "It's easy to think of 200 wins and say he was good, but you have to think about that. Everyone had the same limitations and the same challenges of knowledge and understanding and the Pettys somehow raised the bar. "And he raised it in other areas, too, in terms of fan engagement and even something as simple as why his autograph is so legible. It's probably not an accident. People spend their time and money to see him and he wants to give them something." On this night, Petty gave plenty -- his time, his smile, his approval and his sincere gratitude. "I'm just getting old," Petty joked before the program began. "But," he added of the recognition, "Petersen has been in publishing of all kinds of racing magazines. Being they cover all types of racing, to be selected in something like this is really a big thing. I guess it winds up showing we had a lot of good people working for us to be able to put us in this position. It wasn't a one-man show. "What can you do by yourself? "I've accomplished nothing by myself. With the crowd around me we've accomplished a lot. I just happen to be the guy out front. I'm not pulling them, they are pushing me." Always one to share credit and appreciate competition, Petty invited some of his closest friends and even some of his former fiercest competitors to join him this evening. NASCAR executives such as Vice Chairman Mike Helton, Executive Vice President & Chief Global Sales & Marketing Officer Steve Phelps and Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Jill Gregory were there to support and enjoy. Fellow NASCAR Hall of Famers Bobby Allison and Rusty Wallace were there, too, along with the great Donnie Allison, NASCAR team owner Rob Kauffman, Kendall and Petty's son Kyle, who played guitar on stage to end the evening. The musical finale came after the tributes, however. And there were -- appropriately -- hours' worth of those. NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France and his sister, International Speedway Corporation's CEO Lesa France Kennedy, joined a lineup that included Roger Penske, Mario Andretti, Darryl Gywnn and others who sent video messages of accolade and homage. Newly inducted fellow NASCAR Hall of Famer, team owner Rick Hendrick, fondly recalled in his message that Petty's famous signature was "the first autograph I ever got." Former United States Presidents George H. Bush and George W. Bush sent letters to be read on stage. The elder Bush wrote to Petty, "You are a legend. What may not be as well-known is your life's mission to help. ... You are an inspiration about what is best about our great country." Henry Ford, the great, great, great-grandson of Ford Motor Company's founder, delivered a tribute in person as did other major corporate executives. Petty finally took the stage briefly to acknowledge the kindness and many honors, and as you might expect, humbly and briefly reminded everyone, "It's a tribute to not only Richard Petty, but to our sport." At the live auction after dinner, Petty not surprisingly offered a big assist. Two people were in a lively bidding war for one of Petty's famous cowboy hats. When you're the King, your hat is a crown. And after the bidding concluded, Petty took off the very hat he was wearing, walked to the stage and told the audience he would give it to the other bidder -- in effect doubling the money raised for the Petty Family Foundation and Petersen Automotive Museum. And making two grown men very happy. The spontaneous gesture was an apt display of both the high regard Petty has earned and his unending willingness to give back to his many fans. Hats off to the King, indeed.
Fill-in-the-blank: Auto Club
RELATED: Read more Inside Groove I should have known it was going to be a special weekend at Auto Club Speedway when an owl interrupted practice Jimmie Johnson wrecked his primary car in practice Kyle Larson won the pole . Sure enough, I was right wrong wondering what happened to my pet owl . Auto Club Speedway always provides the most exciting westernmost fastest most recent race of the season, and this race was really no exception ordinary race onions, Animal Style, please week to have Matt Kenseth on your fantasy team . What really blew my mind was when Martin Truex Jr. didn't pit for tires at the end of the race Kyle Larson tweeted a picture of his credit card . Why would someone do such a careless misinformed silly genius thing? I guess we can't all be like Brad Keselowski Clint Bowyer Daniel Suarez Jamie McMurray Ryan Blaney Chase Elliott Chip Ganassi , who ended up having a really solid race. It's still amazing to me how Jimmie Johnson has finished every single career lap at ACS Kyle Larson is so fast this season we've been racing at Auto Club Speedway for 20 years "Ty Dillon" is an anagram for "Tiny Doll" . I think I'm going to celebrate Kyle Larson's win Clint Bowyer's best finish in nearly two years Brad Keselowski's impressive comeback Daniel Suarez's second consecutive seventh-place finish heading to Martinsville next week by stocking up some Cottonelle at Target buying some Mobil 1 at Rush Truck Centers installing Wurth auto parts on my Ford while sipping Miller Lite ordering whatever a Number 7 is at Subway logging onto Twitter and telling Dale Jr. to go faster . While it's been fun racing on something that's described as "D-shaped" out West for the past three weeks on fast tracks without Carl Edwards winning all the races with young drivers leading the pack at over 200 mph , it'll be nice to head to Martinsville next week for some good, old-fashioned short-track racing short-track tempers paper-clipping hot dog chugging paint trading -- that is, as soon as I track down my pet owl set down my phone and grab some Cottonelle short pit for fresh tires write Kyle Larson's name on my playoff grid send more angry tweets to Dale Jr.'s crew chief buy Kyle Larson gear and pretend I've been a fan for years set my clock back to East Coast time drop my Matt Kenseth diecast off a cliff so it's crash-accurate .
Auto Club Speedway by the numbers
BUY TICKETS: Celebrate Auto Club's 20th anniversary RELATED: Full weekend schedule Jimmie Johnson was driving a Superman car and wearing a cape the last time he saw Victory Lane at Auto Club Speedway in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series' stop there in 2016. It's appropriate since he almost owns the place. Johnson has six wins at Auto Club, spanning a decade and a half. He also has five runner-up finishes, an impressive average finishing place of 6.5 and has led 980 laps around the 2-mile circuit in Fontana, California. Roger Penske has a stake in the place as well, having been one of the architects, alongside Les "Coach" Richter. The track officially opened June 22, 1997, and it's celebrating its 20th anniversary as NASCAR returns to Fontana this weekend for Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and XFINITY Series racing. Penske got his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win at the track on April 29, 2001 with Rusty Wallace piloting the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford. Brad Keselowski put Team Penske back in Victory Lane at Auto Club Speedway in 2015. Penske's open wheel drivers also have had success at the track. Penske built a fast race track, leading to some stout stats in the speedway's lore: -- A 188.511 mph qualifying speed record set by Denny Hamlin in 2016 -- A 155.012 mph race speed record set by Jeff Gordon in 1997 Digging into the numbers a bit more: -- Hendrick Motorsports has 10 wins, the most of any team -- Ford has 11 wins at the track, and Chevrolet has 13. Kyle Busch has taken home two Auto Club 400 trophies for Toyota in back-to-back races in 2013-14. -- Farthest back in the field a winning driver started: 31st, Matt Kenseth, spring of 2006 -- Pole-sitting winners: Only one, Johnson in 2008 -- The closest margin of victory was 0.144 seconds, as Kevin Harvick edged Johnson in 2011
Luza claims Auto Club triumph for second-straight victory
RELATED: See the complete iRacing schedule Rookie Ryan Luza continued his hot start to the 2017 NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series, finding Victory Lane for the second-straight week, this time at Auto Club Speedway. Luza started on the pole and led 61 of 125 laps, but the race came down to a green-white-checkered finish after a crash with seven laps to go. Luza, along with second-place driver Logan Clampitt and 14 other sim racers, chose to stay out on worn tires for the final two laps, but Michael Conti, who was third at the time, led a group of cars into the pits for fresh rubber. Conti would restart 17th with two laps remaining. On the restart, Luza jumped out in front of Clampitt by two car lengths as Kenny Humpe and Christian Challiner battled side- by -side for third through Turns 1 and 2. Farther back, Conti was on the move after a great restart and used his fresh tires to blow past three competitors by Turn 1. However, Luza's victory was secured -- and Conti's charge halted -- by a crash off Turn 2 when Jimmy Mullis and David Rattler hit the wall and caused the cars behind them to stack up. The crash brought out the evening's sixth yellow flag, ending the race under caution. Clampitt followed Luza across the line to finish second, his third top-five finish in three races. Challiner just edged Humpe for third at the time of caution and Bobby Zalenski came home fifth. Luza opened the race by leading the first 11 laps before Zack Novak and Corey Vincent beat him out of the pit lane under the first caution. Novak led until Luza reclaimed the point on Lap 20. However, it was Clampitt with the best long run car early as he ran down and passed Luza on Lap 38, just a few laps before the leaders began green flag pit stops. Clampitt pitted a lap later than Luza and lost the lead by doing so thanks to Luza's extra lap on fresh tires. The two continued running nose-to-tail, but a caution cut their battle short on Lap 51. The caution also helped the lead-lap cars, which pitted late in the cycle, as they stayed out on their barely used tires, relegating Luza to ninth after he pitted for fresh rubber under caution. With still half the laps remaining, Luza methodically worked his way back towards the front and took the lead away from Zalenski on Lap 76 to regain control of the race. From there Luza was unchallenged the rest of the way, though Alex Bergeron did lead some laps by playing an alternate pit strategy. Luza and his No. 1 Ford Fusion are clearly the combination to beat early in the 2017 season, but it probably should not come as a total surprise considering his dominant NASCAR iRacing Pro Series season over the past winter. He will try to keep the momentum going in two weeks when the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series visits Texas Motor Speedway for Week Four of the sim racing schedule. Last year, PJ Stergios and Ray Alfalla waged a heated battle in the Lone Star State with Stergios getting the best of Alfalla in the end. Look for that duo to be strong once again this year with each of them looking to find the winner's circle for the first time in 2017. Can the rookie make it three in a row, or will a veteran get the best of him? Find out in two weeks' time on iRacing Live ! Tune into www.iracing.com/live at 8:45 p.m. ET on April 4 to catch the action live!
Hamlin: A win is only acceptable thing at Martinsville
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Martinsville " Full schedule There have been more disappointments than celebrations for Denny Hamlin at Martinsville Speedway, but that doesn't make the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series venue any less prominent in the eyes of the Joe Gibbs Racing driver. "A win is the only thing that's acceptable when I get to this race track," Hamlin, 36, said during a visit to the legendary oval earlier this month. "I know I take a lot of pride in coming to this race track and running well." Hamlin, a native of Chesterfield, Virgina, has made 403 starts in NASCAR's top series and won 29 times. Five of those victories have come at Martinsville, the .526-mile track that's been hosting NASCAR races for 70 years now. The track's short straightaways and tight, flat turns put a premium on track position and hearken back to the series' earlier days, when contact among competitors was expected, if not always tolerated. "That's something not many tracks can say," Hamlin said of the facility's longevity. "The history here, you look at all the old photos of this race track. Even though a lot has changed around the race track, the race track itself has not changed. The configuration hasn't changed; it's so very similar to how it used to be many, many years ago." Hamlin has earned more top-five (12) and top-10 (17) finishes at Martinsville than any other track on the schedule and between 2008-'10 he won four of six races there. He's a perennial contender during the twice-yearly visits to the track, but the driver of the No. 11 Toyota admits that with confidence comes a bit of anxiety. "Because if I don't win it's not a successful weekend," he said. "That's a lot of pressure to put on yourself, especially in today's competition, to go out there and expect to win, because all the drivers are so good." They're good, but few have been able to dominate at a particular track the way Hamlin and a handful of others have through the years at Martinsville. Richard Petty owns the track win record with 15 career victories; Darrell Waltrip made off with the unique clock trophy 11 times. More recently, former Hendrick Motorsports drivers Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson piled up nine victories apiece. Johnson is still around to try and add to his total and won the fall race last season. RELATED: Every winner at Martinsville " Hamlin's stats there The gains enjoyed by those drivers are harder to come by today, according to Hamlin, because of widespread data sharing that goes on among the individual organizations. When it comes to competition, there are few secrets in the garage and even fewer among teammates. "So the advantages you had have been whittled down," he said. "To continue to put the expectations of coming here and winning no matter what (may be) a little unrealistic but it's a goal we always set." For Hamlin, a successful weekend at Martinsville starts and ends with "feel." It's what has put him in contention on most occasions and helped put him in the winner's circle here more than anywhere else. "This is one of the very few race tracks I never look at lap times," he said. "Lap times mean nothing to me here. Whether we're first in practice or 20th it really doesn't matter to me because I know the feel in the car that I've got to have to win." Hamlin has won at least one race every season since he began running full-time in the series in 2006. He will be looking for his first win of 2017 when the STP 500 gets underway Sunday (2 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). "It's been circled on our calendar," he said. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Return to Martinsville brings reunited Peters-Kendrick duo full circle
Photo credit: Red Horse Racing BUY TICKETS: See the races at Martinsville Reunited and it feels so good. That's the mantra for veteran driver Timothy Peters and crew chief Chad Kendrick heading into Saturday's Alpha Energy Solutions 250 (3 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Martinsville Speedway. The race is the third of the 2017 season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and marks the first time that the Peters-Kendrick pairing has been back at the 0.526-mile track since their win there in 2009. "It's pretty cool being able to reunite and how things worked out," Peters told NASCAR.com. "Obviously, both of us getting our first win together was a pretty big deal at Martinsville. Since our last time that we won, pretty much we haven't worked together since but remained good friends. Chad's matured as a crew chief. I've matured as a driver and he's had great success at Martinsville. Going back this weekend is a great homecoming." RELATED: Recap every Martinsville race " Get results from October 2009 race That homecoming feeling is aided by two factors: both Peters and Kendrick consider Martinsville to be their home track, and the duo's back story goes back to short track and Late Model circuits all over Virginia. The two raced each other and both admitted they did not like the other at first. "He was THE guy to beat," Kendrick said. "He was the guy when I first started racing against him in the late '90s, I didn't really care for him. We didn't really know each other. We were just competitors and I didn't really like him. It was more of he was THE guy and you wanted to beat that guy." But a chance meeting at a chassis shop saw the two bond and become friends with Kendrick helping Peters work on his Late Model entry if he wasn't racing. That relationship carried forward when Peters got the call to go to Bobby Hamilton Racing where Kendrick worked as a mechanic for the team. From there, came the crew chief position with Peters in 2009 that started with Premier Racing before the two went to Red Horse Racing in the middle of the season. Opportunities took Kendrick elsewhere over the past seven years, including most recently a four-year stint atop the box at Brad Keselowski Racing. During that time, Kendrick scored five wins atop the box. Meanwhile, Peters has spent that time behind the wheel for Red Horse Racing, tallying an additional nine wins. RELATED: Being a crew chief 'the next best thing' for Kendrick
Harvick: 'Kyle Larson is the best driver to come along since Jeff Gordon'
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Martinsville With three runner-ups and a win on Sunday at Auto Club Speedway, Kyle Larson's strong start to the season has gotten the attention of many in the racing industry. That includes 2014 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick, who made quite the bold statement on the current points leader during Tuesday's premiere of his radio show "Happy Hours" on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. "Kyle Larson is the best driver to come along since Jeff Gordon in my opinion," Harvick said definitively. RELATED: Take 5 from Auto Club " Larson wins Auto Club 400 He went on to talk about Larson's talent, how he wins in everything he drives and how "everyone in the garage wants a Kyle Larson." "I think Chase Elliott is going to be great too, but Kyle Larson has something special," Harvick said. By the looks of it, Harvick's son Keelan is a fan of Larson's as well. I mean what the heck @KyleLarsonRacin pic.twitter.com/h5C14IV3Xh — Kevin Harvick (@KevinHarvick) March 28, 2017