Kyle Larson’s Sonoma Win Boosts Title Efforts

Quickly, Kyle Larson's Sonoma win bolsters his championship bid in 2021. (Photo: Luis Torres/The Podium Finish)

Quickly, Kyle Larson’s Sonoma win bolsters his championship bid in 2021. (Photo: Luis Torres/The Podium Finish)

In a year of firsts for Kyle Larson, the Elk Grove, Calif. native kept the good times rolling at Sonoma. All things considered, Larson, who won his first intermediate races at Las Vegas and Charlotte, finally conquered a road course.

Certainly, Kyle Larson and his No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro team consistently showcased speed and might before Sonoma. By all means, the 28-year-old racer put on a clinic last Sunday night (May 30) at Charlotte.

On Sunday afternoon (June 6), Kyle Larson likely added to his case as a genuine NASCAR Cup Series championship contender. Similarly, like Charlotte, Larson rolled off the grid from the pole position.

Teamwork makes the dream work for Kyle Larson. (Photo: Luis Torres/The Podium Finish)

Teamwork makes the dream work for Kyle Larson. (Photo: Luis Torres/The Podium Finish)

Moreover, Larson, crew chief Cliff Daniels, and the No. 5 pit crew brought their A game at Sonoma Raceway. On the whole, Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 seemed like a microcosm of Larson’s season to date.

Surely, Larson faced some challenges and challengers like varying pit strategies along with Martin Truex Jr and Chase Elliott. Still, the ninth year Cup racer rose to the occasion, answering the bells with a cool head. Savvy, mature and determined, Larson charged his way to the front and survived multiple late race restarts.

Generally speaking, Larson acknowledged the good times and his team’s hard work.

In the long run, Larson continually showcases why he's a threat for this year's title. (Photo: Luis Torres/The Podium Finish)

In the long run, Larson continually showcases why he’s a threat for this year’s title. (Photo: Luis Torres/The Podium Finish)

“Everything is going better than it has for me in the Cup Series,” Larson said. “It’s just been a lot of fun. I just hope we can keep it going. I think it’s great to be on a hot streak, but this series is so tough that you could easily get knocked back and be struggling and don’t know why you are.

“We just got to continue to work hard. Pit crew has been doing a great job. Cliff, everybody at the shop, on all the cars, have been doing great. I feel like I’m putting in a lot of work on my end and results are showing. We got to keep working hard to stay this good.”

In fairness, Larson, who placed sixth in the standings in 2019, flexed his muscles with multiple wins in 2017. Namely, Larson scored four wins while leading 1,352 laps while placing eighth.

However, unlike 2017, Larson parlays the consistency game like famed No. 5 drivers Ricky Rudd and Terry Labonte.

With this in mind, Kyle Larson bested the best road course warriors in NASCAR. (Photo: Luis Torres/The Podium Finish)

With this in mind, Kyle Larson bested the best road course warriors in NASCAR. (Photo: Luis Torres/The Podium Finish)

Truth be told, Larson, while optimistic, realizes the necessities of being a realist.

“I mean, it’s still a lot of racing left,” Larson observed. “I think if you were to point right now at a favorite, I think for sure you’d have to look at us, with us running up front, leading lots of laps, getting the stage wins, things like that. And now getting a couple race wins these last two weeks.

“Like I said, it’s still a long ways left to go. Teams are going to get better. Teams are going to fade. I just hope we’re a team that continues to get better, keeps getting these wins. Hopefully [we’ll] be battling my teammates for a championship in Phoenix later this year.”

Indeed, Larson, along with three wins, enjoys a strong average finish of 10.8 after 16 races. Even more, “Yung Money” shared a bit of a startling fact that may leave competitors a bit shocked.

“My car was really good,” he said. “I didn’t really have to run 100%. I could run 95%, just limit my mistakes a little bit better.”

Ultimately, Larson’s season of firsts included another unique feat for the Cup series’ hottest driver.

In summary, Kyle Larson looks like the driver to beat. (Photo: Luis Torres/The Podium Finish)

In summary, Kyle Larson looks like the driver to beat. (Photo: Luis Torres/The Podium Finish)

“To get back-to-back wins in the Cup Series is something I’ve always dreamed of doing,” Larson mused. “And to get it done feels great. To win last week on Memorial Day weekend, four in a row now, if you count my dirt racing too. And we’ve got a big week of racing coming up. I look forward to all that and just look forward to keeping the streak going.”

Indeed, Larson can turn his attention on battling for $1 million next Sunday night (June 13) at Texas Motor Speedway. Altogether, the nine-time Cup race winner no longer remains a favorite for race wins but perhaps this year’s championship.

Rob Tiongson

Rob Tiongson is a 30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught his eyes.

From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by him or by one of his talented columnists who have a passion for racing.

Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. He enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat.

Tiongson, a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, pursues his Master of Arts in Digital Communications at St. Bonaventure University. Indeed, while Tiongson is proud to be from Massachusetts, he's just as happy to be a Texan.

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