Johnson doesn't begrudge Larson's success, praising his talent

Kevin Harvick’s proclamation that Kyle Larson is the best driver to come along since Jeff Gordon might have raised the ire of many a race fan.

Johnson doesn't begrudge Larson's success, praising his talent
Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane
Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet spins
Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet celebrates his victory with a burnout

However, the comments didn’t faze Jimmie Johnson, who many think would be a logical candidate for that distinction.

The seven-time NASCAR Cup champion sees “a ton of potential” in Larson.

“He's a great talent,” Johnson said. “His love for racing, I think, it’s a great story to see play out and to see just the reaction on his face the way he describes his childhood. With social media, today I guess I’m working towards a picture of seeing him get autographs from Jeff Gordon and other drivers. To have him really live the racer's dream and grow up as a fan and racing locally and making it to this point, I think it’s an amazing story.

Certainly, Larson’s rise in the Monster Energy Cup Series didn't happen overnight. His first win came in his 99th start. Larson’s second victory: 17 races later.

Then again, Larson initially did not have the same caliber of equipment that Johnson had driving the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy or that Tony Stewart had with Joe Gibbs Racing. Kyle Busch, another phenomenal talent, was fortunate to cut his teeth with Hendrick Motorsports before moving to JGR.

Johnson scored his first of three rookie-season wins in his 13th-career start. Stewart, who earned three titles under three different formats, earned his first Cup victory 25 races into his first year and won three races in his rookie year. Busch motored into Victory Lane in his 31st start, then won his second race 10 weeks later.

Brad Keselowski scored his first win in his fifth Cup start, splitting his schedule between Hendrick Motorsports and Phoenix Racing. And Harvick, who started the discussion on his new SiriusXM NASCAR radio show last Tuesday, won in just his third-career start after inheriting what was originally the No. 3 ride from Dale Earnhardt — which at the time was one of the most coveted cars in the garage.

“We've all known that he has been highly talented and just waiting for him and the team to get to their winning ways, and it looks like they are there,” Johnson added. “With all the top-two’s and then cleaning house last weekend he's well on his way.”

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