DAYTONA BEACH, FL :: We’ve all heard it before, we have nothing to lose and everything to gain sometimes. But we also have everything to lose and nothing to gain other times. That may have been the case with Kyle Larson in the UNOH Battle at the Beach. Did a small victory come at a much greater cost for the young driver from California?

There’s no other way of saying it. Kyle Larson intentionally wrecked CE Falk to win in Monday night’s NASCAR Whelen All American Series Late Model race. He had used his car up and couldn’t get past Falk clean, so he tried to dump him twice. Then, when both efforts were unsuccessful, he turned him on the main straightaway. At the end of the day, NASCAR allowed it to stand and Larson kept the victory.

Now, let’s put this in perspective. Larson is a young driver with a lot of talent who already has his path paved. He will be competing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series full-time and has been hyped up as the next Jeff Gordon by the media. Falk, on the other hand, is a Late Model racer who has tried to get in to the top-tiers of racing by scraping up rides with teams that can’t compete for the win. With that said, Larson already looks like the bad guy.

Now, I like Kyle Larson and I think he’s got great things ahead of him. On the track, he’s a Honey Badger – he’ll do whatever it takes to win. Off the track, he’s a good kid with his head on his shoulders. However, I’m also reminded of Joey Logano in a way. Larson has more talent than Logano will ever have and his ego isn’t the size of the State of Florida, but we all remember the Toyota All Star Showdown in 2009 at Irwindale where Logano dumped Peyton Sellers to win the race – a win that he was stripped of.

That came at a great cost to Logano. He entered the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series full-time that season as a rookie. He also entered with his image as a driver who races clean and with respect stained. After that, Logano was pushed around in the big leagues. Drivers were racing him harder than other drivers. In the big leagues of auto racing, respect goes a long ways. Drivers race you like they think you would race them. Logano lost a lot of respect.

That takes us to Larson. Yes, he won the race. Did he lose the respect of his fellow competitors while doing it? This wasn’t Larson making a statement that he won’t be pushed around. Instead, Larson sent a message to his competitors last night that, if he can’t pass you clean, he’s going to dump you. Now, how will his competitors race him when they’re around him? Will they race him with respect or will they push him around?

Larson really had nothing to gain from it. Sure, he won and got the money and the trophy. At the same time, he has stained his reputation. Other drivers from other touring divisions have already vowed to put him “in Lake Lloyd”. The media, which has held Larson up as the next Jimmie Johnson, is now criticizing the young driver. Was a win in a Late Model race worth all this?