AVONDALE, Ariz. – Kyle Larson and the No. 5 HendrickCars.com team have a chance to take home a championship on Sunday at Phoenix Raceway. Despite being knocked out of the driver's championship in the Round of 12, Larson enters the 2022 final race as one of four cars eligible to win the owner’s title.
Although Larson was unable to successfully defend his 2021 driver’s championship, the 30-year-old driver sees this as a unique opportunity to bring another title to Hendrick Motorsports.
"There’s definitely things to be proud of this season," Larson said during a media availability at Phoenix on Friday. "The fight that we’ve put in throughout the season to get better and become stronger as a team is something I’m proud of.
"Although we’ve done it a little bit late, we’ve gotten now to a point where I’m confident when we go into the races and in the team. I’m looking forward to another weekend of executing well and bringing another owner’s championship to Rick Hendrick."
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Larson is seeking to bring home the organization's 15th owner's title. He will be competing against the same NASCAR Cup Series teams that Chase Elliott is squaring off against for the driver's championship: The No. 1 of Ross Chastain, the No. 20 of Christopher Bell and the No. 22 of Joey Logano.
The driver and owner’s titles being split is a special scenario that has unfolded only two other times but not since 1963. The first instance came in 1954. Despite the noteworthy nature of the situation, Larson and his team remain poised on their goal. For the group, winning a Cup Series title in any form is a major accomplishment.
"I honestly don’t view it any differently," Larson said of being eligible for only the owner's championship. "I come here with as much focus as I had last season when racing for both championships."RELATED: Owner's championship at forefront for Daniels, Larson
Larson and crew chief Cliff Daniels come into this race as the defending race winner with a race-best 107 laps led in last November's event. He also has six top-seven finishes in his last seven starts at the 1-mile track.
On top of that, the Elk Grove, California, native is surging as the 2022 season comes to a close. He won two weekends ago at Homestead-Miami Speedway for his third win of the year and to earn a spot in the owner's Championship 4. That result was followed up with a pole position and runner-up finish at Martinsville Speedway last weekend - a track that has been a tough one for Larson to master.
"I think they kind of just hit their stride with this car," team owner Rick Hendrick told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio earlier this week about the recent strong runs by the No. 5 team. "These last two weeks have been really good and I think it's going to transfer into Phoenix (Raceway).
"When you got the momentum going and you feel like you got what you need and can’t wait to get there to get after it, I think that makes a huge difference. I think they are as jacked as I’ve ever seen them."
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Tune in to see Larson and the No. 5 team go for this special achievement on Sunday, Nov. 6, at 3:00 p.m. ET on NBC, Peacock, MRN Radio, and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).