Mr. Hendrick is well positioned to add to the legacy of his Hendrick Motorsports organization this year with two of his four Cup drivers – Kyle Larson and William Byron – making up half of the Championship 4 that will compete Sunday at Phoenix Raceway for the 2023 title.
Neither driver’s appearance should come as a surprise.
Both were among the most consistent all season, as Byron enjoyed a breakout year with a series-leading six wins while Larson had the second-most with four. Two of Larson’s victories came in the playoffs while one of Byron’s did.
Both each won one race early in the year, but both also produced clutch victories – Bell one and Blaney two – in the playoffs which helped propel them into the title fight against teams which enjoyed far more success in the regular season.
“I think this is what kind of shows you – I won’t say anybody – but there’s probably 10 or 15 guys out there in the right position that could be in this playoff, be one of the guys in the final four,” Hendrick said.
“You look at the talent of the people out there, the way these cars equalize the field. On any given day you see organizations that rise to the top. … I think it opens the sport up. I think it’s what Jim France wanted and what NASCAR wanted, and the fans wanted, to equalize the field and see multiple people have shots to win races.”
How the new car has changed things
Hendrick believes the biggest change in competition with the new car is teams’ inability to engineer their own parts and pieces. Teams now purchase virtually the entire car from single-source suppliers.
“We’re basically racing the same car. When you look at the motors, they’re all pretty close. I mean, they’re within three or four horsepower of each other from Toyota to Ford to Chevrolet,” he said.
“The advantage in the sport today is pit crews, having a really good pit crew that’s fast, guys calling the race not making any mistakes. The wild card today is restarts, getting track position. Whether you get it with two tires, no tires, fuel only,…