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Rick Hendrick owner of Hendrick Motorsports is the winningest owner in the history of the NASCAR Cup Series and when you look at the lineup of drivers who have driven his equipment over the years, it becomes clear why he sets on top of the list.

Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Terry Labonte and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are just some of the drivers that have called HMS home and now he may have another one of those Hall of Fame type drivers in his stable.

Kyle Larson did not have a ride this time last season after he used a racial slur during a virtual racing broadcast which resulted in him being let go from his ride at Chip Ganassi Racing. He was scheduled to become a free agent at the end of the 2020 season and was expected to be the most sought after driver to fill an empty seat for this season.

All of that changed very quickly and no one knew how long or how hard of a road it would be for the talented driver to make it back to the Cup level. In steps Rick Hendrick with an open ride for this season and a history giving talented drivers the equipment they need to be successful.

Larson’s price tag was only a fraction of what it would have been if he was able to finish out the 2020 season with Ganassi but Hendrick was offering him the opportunity to not only once again compete at the Cup level but to do it in championship equipment.

Sunday’s All-Star race at Texas Motor Speedway did not pay any points but there was a huge check that went to the winner and as Mike Joy said more than once during the TV broadcast it had two comas which made it worth a million dollars.

The All-Star race has always had its own unique format in hopes of not only creating excitement but maintaining that for the entire race. It was definitely a different feel with the race being at Texas but the format did what it was intended and it definitely fit the style of Larson as he races every lap like it is the last and that is what you had to do to have any chance of winning on Sunday.

The All-Star race turned out to be at the perfect stop on the schedule for Larson as he entered the event with a ton of momentum as he had won the past two races at Charlotte and Sonoma. He is arguably the hottest driver in the sport with three points race wins on the season and eleven stage victories.

The combination of the two gives him a series leading 26 Playoff points that will transfer with him to the Playoff Rounds during the final 10 races of the season that will determine this season’s champion. Larson always displayed the talent to win and compete for the title in the series but like so many others in the sport was never really in the type of equipment that matched that allowed him to showcase what he could do behind the wheel.

It’s evident now that the equipment matches his talent and you have to like his chances of making a serious run for this year’s title.

PIT NOTES: Sunday was the last race for Texas Motor Speedway President and General Manager Eddie Gossage after being with Speedway Motorsports Inc. parent company of TMS for 32 years.

He started at Texas before the first asphalt was ever laid and since then has helped turn it into a world class facility that is not only used for racing but plays host to huge concerts. TMS lost one of its two Cup dates to Circuit of America road course with that racer being promoted by SMI.

In return for the lost date, the speedway was awarded the All-Star race. This season several changes that took place with SMI tracks as Bristol Motor Speedway was turned into a dirt track for its spring race.

Steve Mickey writes about NASCAR for HD Media.

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