Sunday, July 14, 2024

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Jeff Gordon praises Larson as 'considered one of the best' after Sonoma charge

That hasn't stopped the previous off-road racing standout from excelling in NASCAR competition, as what he does behind the wheel greater than makes up for what he lacks in detailed knowledge.

The most up-to-date example occurred during Sunday's Cup race at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, when Larson's crew chief, Cliff Daniels, decided that Larson would stay on the track until the ultimate leg before making his final green-flag pit stop.

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Theory? Larson would gain a big advantage, and when he finally pitted, he would have much newer tires than those he would must run on the track to regain the lead.

The plan worked flawlessly, as Larson returned to eighth after pitting after which took the lead with eight of 110 laps remaining before racing to victory.

After the race, Larson said he wasn't sure what boxing strategy his team had chosen, and even described learning it as “like doing homework.” I actually don't know what I'm taking a look at.

But as Hendrick Motorsports vice chairman and Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon noted, “of course it doesn't have to.”

Gordon praises Larson for Sonoma's sensible drive

When asked how Larson could possibly be so successful and yet not know the small print of the race automobile and the strategy, Gordon replied: “Because he's driving it. I believe in case you get your lap times and make good decisions, he did a very good job of creating up positions on the restart when he needed to.

“When these other guys pitted and he was on barely older tires (and) kept his lap times the identical as before, that's what great drivers do and do well, and he's considered one of the the very best.”

Gordon said Larson is best capable of get up to the mark in his race automobile – regardless of what he drives.

“You don't have to know anything about a car to get speed out of it,” Gordon said. “I believe it comes right down to – he's probably a little bit too humble in a number of the things he says – whether he's a key a part of what the automobile does to have the option to feed that information back to Cliff and the team to get more out of it.

“There's a lot of data that these guys can draw conclusions from, but still, if the car is loose or tight or whatever the balance is, he has to give them that information in the race, and he gives great feedback.”

Being capable of tell Daniels what his No. 5 Chevrolet is doing and the way he's reacting is just as vital as the alternatives the team makes to alter the setup more to Larson's liking.

Understanding these pit changes or strategies shouldn’t be obligatory if the driving force can go faster than the competition when the automobile's performance is at its best.

“I think it's mainly when Cliff says, 'Hey, we've got to make up some ground here,' or 'Hey, we've got to run at this pace,' he's able to do those things,” Gordon explained.

“I think he's just doing the things he needs to do well. You don't have to worry about others.”

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