Kyle Larson Eyes First NASCAR Cup Series Title

All things considered, Kyle Larson keeps turning up the wick with his performances. (Photo: Jonathan Huff | The Podium Finish)

All things considered, Kyle Larson keeps turning up the wick with his performances. (Photo: Jonathan Huff | The Podium Finish)

In the midst of a career season, Kyle Larson, racking up incredible wins, seeks his first NASCAR Cup Series championship. By all means, the 29-year-old Elk Grove, Calif. native continually triumphs regardless of the car or track.

Certainly, Kyle Larson capitalizes on most of his race day opportunities. More times than not, Larson, in his unmistakable No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevy, wins or scores strong frontrunning finishes.

Similarly, Larson, who enters the NASCAR Playoffs as the regular season champion, delivers excellence each weekend for Hendrick Motorsports. Beyond Larson’s impressive drives throughout the first 26 races, a familiar number returned in grand fashion.

Longtime fans recall the No. 5 car when Geoffrey Bodine, Ricky Rudd and Terry Labonte combined for 25 Cup wins from 1984-’03. Some may remember the 15 wins logged by Kyle Busch, Mark Martin and Kasey Kahne.

Undoubtedly, the No. 5 holds special meaning for Hendrick Motorsports as it pays homage to the late Ricky Hendrick. Ricky, the son of car owner Rick, made his presence in the No. 5 ride during the 2002 NASCAR XFINITY Series season.

Above all else, Larson recognizes the significance behind his car’s number and the team he represents each Cup race weekend.

Not surprisingly, Kyle Larson runs the high line at Daytona during the 2021 Coke Zero Sugar 400. (Photo: Jonathan Huff | The Podium Finish)

Not surprisingly, Kyle Larson runs the high line at Daytona during the 2021 Coke Zero Sugar 400. (Photo: Jonathan Huff | The Podium Finish)

“It’s cool,” Larson said. “I think just racing the car in general for Mr. H, what that paint scheme and number means to him, it means a lot to me for him to kind of have that trust in me to carry it on. Had a lot of success with it this year, have ourselves positioned in a good spot to chase the championship.”

Indeed, Larson and his No. 5 team make good on their championship chase. Presently, Larson has five victories, 14 top fives and 18 top 10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 9.7.

Of course, “Yung Money” seeks more winning moments with his No. 5 car starting on Sunday night at Darlington.

"We have a shot to win anywhere right now. That's encouraging." - Kyle Larson (Photo: Josh Jones | The Podium Finish)

“We have a shot to win anywhere right now. That’s encouraging.” – Kyle Larson (Photo: Josh Jones | The Podium Finish)

“I would have loved to put that car and that paint scheme with HendrickCars.com on it in victory lane more often throughout the rest of the year, especially in Phoenix,” Larson observed.

Likewise, Larson points out Phoenix as it hosts the season finale for a second consecutive year. Ideally, the ninth-year Cup racer hopes he’s among the Championship 4 on November 7.

Notably, the 11-time Cup race winner enjoys a sizable points lead into the Round of 16. Coupled with the fact that Larson excels at a majority of the Playoff tracks, wins are likely anywhere.

"It's been nice to have us all win this year and challenge for many other wins." - Kyle Larson (Photo: Mike Moore | The Podium Finish)

“It’s been nice to have us all win this year and challenge for many other wins.” – Kyle Larson (Photo: Mike Moore | The Podium Finish)

“I mean, I think there’s a lot of good tracks for us,” Larson opined. “I don’t know which ones specifically. We have a shot to win anywhere right now. That’s encouraging. I really just look forward to getting it started next week, kind of getting into the flow of that, racing in the Playoffs against multiple other drivers chasing points and wins. Yeah, I feel good about it.”

As can be seen throughout the season, some of Larson’s best competition includes his Hendrick Motorsports teammates. In fact, Alex Bowman, William Byron and Chase Elliott, as a whole, tallied six wins.

Truly, a winning percentage of 42% among the Hendrick quartet proves quite stellar. Expressly, Hendrick Motorsports accounts for a quarter of the Playoffs field.

With this in mind, the possibility exists in which Larson and his Hendrick stablemates battle in the Championship 4.

In this case, Larson understands the challenges for an all Hendrick Championship 4 race at Phoenix. However, he points out Hendrick’s strengths throughout this season.

Larson, Texas Ranger. (Photo: Sean Folsom | The Podium Finish)

Larson, Texas Ranger. (Photo: Sean Folsom | The Podium Finish)

“It would be hard to get all of us in the Final 4 at Phoenix, but it’s not impossible either,” he said. “We’ve all four been really strong I feel like all season long. It’s been nice to have us all win this year and challenge for many other wins. Yeah, it’s not impossible, but it’s definitely going to be tough. That would be awesome.”

Given these points, Larson and his Hendrick teammates evolved from fresh faced young NASCAR prospects to perennial contenders. For one thing, Larson, Bowman, Byron and Elliott graduated from NASCAR Next, a program spotlighting the future of Cup racing.

Alongside Larson and his Hendrick allies, Ryan Blaney of Team Penske also graduated from NASCAR Next. Ultimately, Larson, hopes he adds to NASCAR Next’s legacy by chasing and earning his first championship come November.

Larson, still a young gun despite his plentiful Cup experiences, reflected on his stock car journey thus far.

California dreaming. (Photo: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish)

California dreaming. (Photo: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish)

“Yeah, I look back on that little era of drivers that I raced with in 2012 in the K&N East Series, look at how many of us are in the Cup Series now. It’s really cool. So, yeah, it’s just neat to be a part of that, be one of the guys that they noticed early on that we had potential.

“Now we’re here chasing championships and stuff. Chase was able to win the championship last year. Blaney has won these last two races. It’s cool.”

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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