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Hendrick, Chevrolet know they “have very little margin” despite wins

Hendrick drivers have won two of the 2024 season’s first two races, with William Byron winning the Daytona 500 and Kyle Larson dominating in a victory Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

With Daniel Suarez’s win at Atlanta for Trackhouse Racing, the only manufacturer that did not begin the season with a new car body has yet to lose a race.

Despite the wins, there are signs Toyota and Ford teams remain in contention. Ford drivers have won all three poles this season while another – reigning series champion Ryan Blaney – was involved in the three-way photo finish at Atlanta in which Suarez came out on top.

On Sunday, although he led just one lap in the race, Toyota driver Tyler Reddick found himself running down Larson for the lead at the end of both stages as well as the end of the race.

Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro, victory lane

Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro, victory lane

Photo by: Gavin Baker / NKP / Motorsport Images

So, while Chevy continues to win, it knows its competition is at times just inches away.

“It’s really fun to be a part of with all the folks at Chevrolet right now,” said Larson’s crew chief, Cliff Daniels. “We don’t have a new submission and we know the other OEMs do.

“Our sense of urgency is there. We know that we’ve got to keep evolving, just the continuity of our stuff and keep understanding our stuff better. So, we still have to push.

“We still made setup changes from the fall to here because we didn’t quite have the long run pace that some other guys had in the fall. I would still argue we needed a little bit more.”

A close fight at the front

With the season beginning with two superspeedway races, Las Vegas was the first race on the intermediate type of track that dominates the schedule.

While Larson was impressive in the race – winning both stages and leading 181 of 267 laps – the manufacturers still finished 1-2-3 and Reddick nearly caught Larson for the lead at the finish.

“We’re going to have to keep evolving pretty quick because the more they start to get their stuff figured out, the gap is going to get closed,” Daniels said of the Toyota and Ford teams.

“To be honest, I know that by winning both stages and the race, you would say we had the dominant day, but there were some cars that were pretty tough right there with us, and at the end of long runs, (Reddick) was there every time.

“I think the gap is actually tighter than what it may look on paper.”

Staying ahead

For now, HMS has a pair of wins and two drivers locked in the 2024 playoffs fueling its 40th anniversary celebration with plenty of time to add even more.

Still, the victories are tempered by a note of caution.

“We know we have very little margin here. We know we’re up against a new car with Ford and Toyota,” said Jeff Andrews, president and general manager of HMS. “We have to do our best to work together and keep advancing this car.

“We’re obviously early on in the season here, a lot of racing to go, and they will get there. Anytime that you change a platform on those cars as much as they have, it’s going to take a little bit of time.

“Both of those OEMs certainly have a lot of potential, and we’re going to have to keep pushing really, really hard to keep ourselves in contention.”

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This article was originally published by a www.motorsport.com . Read the Original article here. .

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