There are drivers who have a deep understanding of every part and piece of their car. They can crawl underneath and work on the chassis or tune the engine.
Kyle Larson is not that kind of driver.
“I remember one time I put the gears in upside down,” Larson said in Wednesday’s edition of NASCAR America. “We went to Placerville (Speedway). It was like bogging really bad in hot laps, and I’m like ‘I know what I did wrong.’ “
Larson’s ability to work on the car has not improved since that race.
Larson sees value in both types of drivers – those who know the intricacies of the car and how the mechanical parts are affecting the handling, and those who trust their engineers and crew to make right changes based on their feedback.
“I’ve probably looked underneath a stock car maybe two or three times,” Larson said. “In the shop, I’ll get under there and they’ll show me this new trick aero thing or whatever. … I don’t really know what I’m looking at. I don’t really care.”
While running sprint cars, Larson’s team would find little things he could work on. Nothing major – change some gears (after that early Placerville race, presumably always right side up), grease some parts, do a little maintenance. But as his career progressed and the cars became more complicated, his effort was best concentrated on finding the fastest way around the track.
“Once I started driving for people and driving was my job … any team owner I raced for, all they cared about was just driving … the best you can,” Larson said.
What truly makes a driver “is different for a lot of people. … For me, I feel like I don’t work that hard at it. … It just comes natural to me. But then there’s guys like Jimmie Johnson who’s got the natural talent, but also works way harder than anyone else that makes him the driver that he is.”
For more, watch the video above.