Story By: JON EDWARDS / HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS – CONCORD, NC – On Sunday, defending NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Larson will seek his first win in NASCAR’s crown jewel event, the DAYTONA 500.
In 2017, he led the field with one lap to go in the race before his Chevrolet ran out of fuel and coasted to a 12th-place finish. In 15 starts at the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway, Larson has five top-10 results, including 10th in last year’s DAYTONA 500.
THE CHAMP: With a victory in the season finale at Phoenix Raceway in November, Larson won the 2021 Cup Series championship to become the record-extending fourth driver to secure a title for Hendrick Motorsports at the highest level of stock car racing. Larson and the No. 5 HendrickCars.com team won five playoff races – tying Tony Stewart for most victories during a 10-race playoff. Overall, the team won a series-leading 10 points-paying events in 2021 plus the annual non-points NASCAR All-Star Race.
DAYTONA CLINCH: Before going on to win the 2021 Cup Series title, Larson secured the regular season championship at Daytona in August despite being involved in a last-lap accident and finishing 20th.
CAREER YEAR: In 2021, Larson led the Cup Series in wins (10), top-five finishes (20), top-10s (26), stage wins (18), laps led (2,581) and average start (6.1) – all career-bests. His laps led in 2021 were more than the combined total of the second- and third-place drivers in that statistical category.
PACING THE FIELD: Larson’s 2021 laps led total (2,581) was the most ever during a 36-race Cup season and the most since NASCAR Hall of Famer and former Hendrick Motorsports driver Jeff Gordon paced the field for 2,610 circuits in the 31-race 1995 campaign.
WINNER AT DIS: In July 2018, Larson won the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Daytona International Speedway. The Elk Grove, California, native led a race-high 40 laps en route to victory there.
QUICK TIME: At 13.63 seconds, the No. 5 pit crew owned the quickest average time for four-tire pit stops in 2021. The over-the-wall crew returns all five starters in 2022: gasman Brandon Harder, jackman Brandon Johnson, tire carrier R.J. Barnette and tire changers Donnie Tasser (front) and Calvin Teague (rear). Their final performance of 2021 – a 12.345-second four-tire stop – moved Larson from fourth to first for the final restart and propelled the 29-year-old driver to his first Cup Series championship.
OVER $200K: In March, Larson launched the Kyle Larson Foundation, which was established to better serve today’s youth, families and communities in need through hands-on support. The Sanneh Foundation and the Urban Youth Racing School are the primary beneficiaries of the foundation, which will also work closely with Hendrick Cares, the corporate social responsibility program of Hendrick Automotive Group. To kickstart the “Drive for 5,” Larson pledged a personal donation of $5 for every Cup Series lap he completed in 2021 and contributed another $5,000 for every top-five finish he earned. After 36 races, he pledged more than $140,000 and raised more than $200,000. To learn more, please visit KyleLarsonFoundation.org.