CONCORD, N.C. – Kyle Larson and the No. 5 team will be after a championship in two weeks when the NASCAR Cup Series concludes its 2022 season at Phoenix Raceway.
While he was eliminated from the driver’s championship hunt following the race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL, Larson is still in contention to defend the No. 5’s owner’s title. Sunday’s victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway locked the group into the Championship 4 for the owner’s championship.
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Team owner Rick Hendrick has 14 championships at the sport’s top level.
"Having the opportunity to bring Mr. Hendrick his 15th owner’s title is something we are very excited about," Jeff Andrews, team president and general manager of Hendrick Motorsports, said in an availability after Larson’s win.
"Shortly after the race at the (Charlotte) ROVAL, we were able to get our hands around that very quickly and what that meant. Cliff (Daniels, crew chief) did a great job with his team and getting them refocused on that."
To still be in the thick of the owner’s battle, means plenty to Daniels after an up-and-down year.
"To have the reflection on the team be that we're still in it," Daniels said of the victory and the team’s mindset coming out of Larson’s elimination two weeks ago from the driver’s championship. "We've had a very character-building year, and we've had to be tough through the adversity and learn from our mistakes. To still be in it and have a shot is pretty special."
This year has seen 19 different winners with three victories coming after the playoffs started by non-playoff drivers and one driver with a win (Kurt Busch), removing his playoff waiver since he was unable to return in time for the postseason. Those circumstances allowed for a winless driver (Ryan Blaney) to make the playoffs, but his team did not make the owner’s playoffs since there were 16 teams that won in the regular season.
"If I was to have it one way or the other, I would rather be out on my end and be able to celebrate the team championship," Larson said following his third win of the 2022 season.
Larson’s win was a series-best 291st for Hendrick Motorsports – just nine away from a landmark number in 300. While he may not be able to go back-to-back in the driver’s championship, the 30-year-old Elk Grove, California, native wants to do all he can to get his team owner some more championship hardware.
"He's got such a successful history in this sport, and when you think of team owners and teams, Hendrick Motorsports is the bar," Larson said. "They are the best team. It's an honor to race for him and everything that they have built.
"I hope that I can do my part to bring him his 15th."
Teammates William Byron and Chase Elliott remain in contention for both the driver’s and owner’s championships as the series heads to Martinsville Speedway for the Round of 8 finale on Oct. 30 (2 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio [Channel 90]).