CONCORD, N.C. -- On Wednesday, Hendrick Motorsports announced it signed Kyle Larson to a multi-year deal and will bring back the No. 5 Chevrolet for him. The 28-year-old driver said he was extremely grateful for the opportunity and appreciated how team owner Rick Hendrick was supportive as a friend over the last six months.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for Rick Hendrick,” Larson said Thursday. “I think everybody has a lot of respect for Mr. H. To have him reach out and continue to check in with me, see how I was doing, how my family was and what I was up to, it meant a lot. For it to progress and him learn about everything I was doing off the track and now to be able to join his legacy here at Hendrick Motorsports, it means the world to me.”
Larson said his return to the NASCAR Cup Series has stemmed from a period of self-reflection and learning. Larson going above and beyond to give back to communities around the country, such as with the Urban Youth Racing School, is what prompted Hendrick to sign him.
“He just laid his heart out to everybody,” Hendrick said of Larson. “I think to do some of the things he’s done, I think it takes a man to admit, hey, I did something terrible. And I want to make it right. I’m going to learn. I’m going to go. I’m going to do.
“When I looked at that, I thought, hey, everybody deserves a second chance. I’m very thankful.”
Larson has taken to dirt racing over the past several months, winning 42 events in a sprint car. With the changes coming with the 2021 schedule that include a dirt track at Bristol and more road courses, plus working with top-notch technology and stock cars, he said he’s excited to hit the track with Hendrick Motorsports.
“Winning as often as I have this year and having the extra confidence, it should hopefully carry over to next season,” Larson said. “I think the confidence that I feel, like the mechanics and team members will have for me, will help boost me even more. So, I’m just excited to get to meet everybody and build relationships and then get racing next year and hopefully carrying what I have on dirt into NASCAR.”
Hendrick also discussed the reasoning behind bringing back the No. 5 Chevrolet, which has been piloted by legendary drivers in the Cup Series.
“The No. 5 was my first car number,” Hendrick said. “It’s had some great drivers – Terry Labonte, Mark Martin and all those guys in the car. ... The 88 was a number that we ran because Dale Earnhardt Jr. wanted it, so that was the reason we actually ran that number. It means a lot to me and the organization to go back to our original number.”