CONCORD, N.C. -- Thanksgiving is a time for family, friends, food and, of course, giving thanks. Like many people across the country who will tuck into their meals and get cozy in front of the TV watching football, the Hendrick Motorsports drivers will be taking time with loved ones during this holiday.
In pure Kyle Larson style, the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion will sprinkle some racing in with his holiday plans. Larson already won his first event since he took the checkered flag at Phoenix Raceway over two weeks ago, finishing first in the Hangman 100 at Placerville Speedway in Placerville, California, on Friday. He spent time in his hometown of Elk Grove, California, for "Kyle Larson Day" before preparing for another dirt race at Merced Speedway on Wednesday night.
Larson then will move on to the 80th Turkey Night Grand Prix at Ventura Speedway. Both venues are in his native California.
“My Thanksgiving tradition is to always race on Thanksgiving,” Larson said. “This year, they moved the race a couple of days later to Saturday, so we’re going to be in Disneyland with some friends and family and the kids, so that’ll be fun. Maybe my tradition is being in Southern California for it. No big family dinners and stuff like that because we’re usually at the racetrack, so I guess that’s my tradition.”
Chase Elliott also will have a similar schedule to Larson. He will be hitting the dirt tracks at Merced Speedway and Ventura Speedway this week but will also make time for his loved ones on Thursday.
“I always enjoy time around family,” Elliott said. “Obviously, I like to eat, so Thanksgiving is a great time to spend with family and get together and see everybody’s homemade meals. I’m just very thankful that my Thanksgivings have been as nice as they have been over the years. I certainly look forward to spending that quality time with my family. I feel like that’s the most important piece of it all.”
Alex Bowman also is in the racing spirit, choosing to spend his holiday time with his teammates working on cars. Outside of Cup racing, Bowman is the owner of Alex Bowman Racing and works with dirt drivers who operate his midget and sprint cars.
“I’ll probably will be at the shop,” Bowman said of his Thanksgiving plans. “It’s that time of year where we’re crunching time to get the Chili Bowl party going. I’ll be working on that.”
William Byron will take it easy on Thanksgiving and enjoy quality time with his loved ones. The Charlotte, North Carolina, native will stay close to family and friends before he prepares for another test run in the Next Gen car in early December.
“Just enjoying being at home, overall,” Byron said of his favorite part of the holiday. “I enjoy being with the family and going over to my uncle’s house and just being around all my cousins. It’s a lot of fun.”
Cliff Daniels, Larson’s crew chief, also will be taking the holiday to relax with his wife and daughter before they become a family of four at the beginning of December. He'll then start preparing for the 2022 Cup season, which begins at the beginning of February.
“I’ll be spending time with my wife and our daughter and our new baby and taking a little bit of time there, because the Cup season is so long,” Daniels said. “It’s so grueling that it’s hard to have those quality moments, so this will be the opportunity to that.”
The drivers will all reunite next week in Nashville for the NASCAR end-of-year banquet. The festivities will air Saturday, Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN.