Kyle Larson did not mince words with his NASCAR spotter at New Hampshire

"Shut the fuck up."

NASCAR: Wurth 400
Credit: Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Larson did not appreciate a degree of editorializing that came from spotter Tyler Monn on Lap 214 of the NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Hamlin ran Larson up the track, twice, and in a vacuum, it wouldn’t be much except these two tend to find themselves door-to-door quite often. Hamlin frequently tends to get the better end of those exchange.

He certainly did here too, and both crew chief Cliff Daniels and Monn offered feedback on the exchange.

Daniels: It’s going to be on you whether you want to take that or not.
Larson: I was trying not to take it.
Monn: He runs you like that every time. You know why? Because you let it happen.
Larson: Shut the fuck up.

And if you listen to the clip above, it was a very terse, unambiguous response.

It’s not uncommon for spotters and drivers to snip at each other over the radio but as veteran eyes in the sky Brett Griffin and Freddie Kraft said on their Door, Bumper, Clear podcast that it takes a special relationship to sustain that sort of brutal honest on both ends.

“Listen, this isn’t necessarily good, right,” Griffin said. “It’s good if you’re Freddie Kraft and Bubba Wallace because you’re buddies and you go way back. It’s good if you’re Elliott Sadler and Brett Griffin, TJ Majors and Dale Jr.

“I don’t know Tyler Monn’s relationship with Kyle Larson. If they’re buddies, it’s okay, two buddies talking. … But if you’re not buddies, it’s not okay if you’re insinuating you’re not a good enough driver … and we’re talking about Kyle Larson by the way … this goes spot off really quickly. You don’t want to deteriorate your relationship.”

Griffin then went on to tell a story where veteran spotter Kevin Hamlin got mad at Clint Bowyer, and despite a protest, sent a very lengthy terse text message to his driver.

“I told him, you’re the guy making 100 grand and he’s the guy making 10 million and you have to take your blows sometimes,” Griffin said.

Hamlin sent it anyway and Bowyer ultimately respected it.

“It was either going to blow up or it will earn his respect (and) it earned his respect.”

Kraft doesn’t think this is that big of a deal, albeit with a caveat.

“They’re buddies enough where it’s not that big of a deal,” Kraft said. “To your point, me and Bubba had it out at Bristol, we were trying to roll around with a flat tire and I was just trying to feed him information about how to get to the end and he said ‘will you just shut the fuck up’ and I said ’10-4, shutting the fuck up’ and he came back two laps later and said he laughed at that.

“You can’t take it to heart but I’ll tell you what, this did not have the playful ‘shut the fuck up’ tone. It sounds like it touched a nerve somewhere and maybe it touched a nerve because Kyle knows Tyler might be a little right.

“I feel like, Kyle has come out on the bad side of some of these with Denny, losing the race at Kansas and this time, Denny packed air on him and sent him into the fence, It definitely seemed like it touched a nerve but I’m sure they’ll be fine.”

That was the veteran spotter standpoint but their veteran driver counterparts, Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were considerably more driver supportive.

“If you look at the scorecard, Denny Hamlin has definitely gotten the best of Kyle Larson through the years,” Harvick said on his Happy Hours Show. “I mean, it’s very lopsided. And I can see where the spotter is coming from on that scenario, but I also think that the spotter should probably keep his mouth shut and not say that. I think he needs to stay in his lane. I think that is something the drivers need to worry about. And if you’re going to talk about something like that, don’t talk about it on the radio. I think a lot of time these spotters take a little more leeway with the things that they say on the radio than they probably should.

“The radio was much quieter after the comment. It was much quieter. … I’m proud of him [Larson], I think a lot of those spotters talk too much and I think sometimes they think they’re driving the car and so, everybody’s out there wanting to be competitive, but as a driver you don’t want to hear that. I would’ve told him to shut the fuck up too.”

Earnhardt, speaking on the Dale Jr Download, was equally blunt in support of the driver in this situation.

“I don’t want to repeat what Larson said, but that’s pretty much the end of the conversation right there,” Earnhardt said. “Larson’s the driver, it’s the final word. He’s the last laugh. Whatever he kind of says at the end of the deal is what’s up. Now, the crew chief has a little more leverage, and can hold the driver a little more accountable, but the spotter, and I’m going to catch hell from DBC but the spotters, they’ve got to be honest.

“It’s good for them to be honest and tell it like it is. But there’s a line there, where you’ve got to be careful, or the driver is going to fire back.

“And what does that look like publicly? Doesn’t that look like Larson cracked the whip? I mean, when you watch that play out publicly, and it gets played on air for all to see, it sounds to me like Larson told him to shut the f up. That was a, ‘I’ve had it. Get your shit together.’ If I’m Larson, I think he’s saying like, ‘I’m all for you being honest, but I don’t need that. I don’t need that bullshit.’ …

“I think Larson handled it and it’s over. I don’t think they need to have a talk. I think that Larson, if the spotter wants to go to Larson and say, ‘Hey man, let’s talk,’ I think Larson probably just says, ‘I’m comfortable with you criticizing my line, other choices I’m making, but that shit right there? It’s a bit too much, and I don’t want to hear it.’ So they’ll adjust going forward. … Every time I’ve ever been in that situation, you get out of the car and it’s over. You don’t discuss it. It’s not, it’s just — it’s heat of the moment.”

For his part, Hamlin said he was faster because he was on four tires compared to two fresh tires for Larson, and he just couldn’t waste time with a prolonged battle with a potentially race ending storm bearing down on Loudon, New Hampshire.

“The reason that me and Kyle race so closely at times because we’re usually racing for a win and neither will give each other an inch. I didn’t quite understand first of all why we were smoking tires down the front stretch. I got to the inside of him off of Turn 4. All of a sudden, I feel him grinding on the right rear. I’m like ‘Whoa, did I not leave enough room there?’ I look back and I watch the replay, I was like ‘Yeah I gave enough room. What the hell we doing door-banging each other down the front straightaway?’”

“At that point, I’m like ‘damn, what the hell?’ I’m on four tires, right? I’m obviously faster than he is. I was faster all day long. And then he’s on two tires which is a deficit, but he’s trying to outrun the 45 and he couldn’t quite get that pass finish but I was coming quickly. The ability of him to be able to hold me off in that scenario was going to be little to no percentage.”

Again, he felt like he couldn’t give up time to Tyler Reddick ahead of them.

“I don’t have time to be screwing with you here. I got to get clear,” Hamlin said. “You’re not going to hold me off, which means you’re not going to win the race. We just won’t give each other an inch to clear. And then off of Turn 4 the next lap, I run him up because I’m like ‘fuck this, dude. I gotta go. I can’t keep dicking with you here. I got to run down this 45. We got water on the windshield.’”

As for when Hamlin heard the exchange between Larson and Monn?

“I agree with Kyle Larson. Tyler should shut the fuck up,” Hamlin said. “Does he say that when Kyle squeezes guys up high? Probably not. You know, that’s the thing about spotters is that they are so biased to their guy, and that’s what they need to be at times. We’re racing for a win, there’s drops on our windshield.”

Matt Weaver is a Motorsports Insider for Sportsnaut. Follow him on Twitter.

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