Kyle Larson knew that signing with Hendrick Motorsports meant the pressure was on. Not only did Larson have to prove that he’s a changed man away from the track, but he needed to show everyone that he could win consistently in top-notch equipment.
Larson did just that, earning 10 wins in 2021 en route to his first-ever NASCAR Cup Series championship. Now, he’s soaking in life as NASCAR’s top driver, ready to be the face of the sport he’s loved since he was a child.
BY JOSEPH WOLKIN, @JoeWolkin
“I think it’s set in some, but I don’t think it will set in quite fully until we get to Champion’s Week and get to celebrate with all of the teams and do everything in Nashville. I’m really enjoying it with the team.”
“It means probably more than it probably would have two years ago with the journey I put myself through to get back to this point. I’m appreciative of the support I’ve had over the last two years or so. I’m glad I could repay everyone back with a NASCAR championship.”
“Getting to have my kids there in Victory Lane was really special. They haven’t been to many races this year with the way the pandemic changed the rules and it’s just a one-day flight to a race. The ones that they’ve been to, I haven’t won at. It’s nice to have my wife, my kids, my sister, my best friend and so many different people at the race this weekend to celebrate with. Seeing Owen and how happy he was, I could see he was proud of me, too, which made me feel good. I think he understood the race on Sunday was bigger than others.”
“I’ve matured a lot and I have a whole new perspective on my life and other people’s lives. I grew up through it all. I look back on the mistake and the experience — a lot of people think of it as a negative thing — I feel like it’s had a positive impact on my life personally and professionally.”
“It means everything that you think it would probably be like. There’s no better race team out there. They are the best. They are the standard for every race team. I take a lot of pride in him trusting me to race for him, but also the car number -- the original car number for his team -- getting to have his son’s paint scheme as ours. That trust means a lot.”
“You don’t know what to expect because we have new cars. It’s hard to set expectations. I would love to be able to sustain multi-win seasons for a long time, as well as continuing to win a lot of big dirt races outside of Nascar.”