Everything to know about Kyle Larson and the No. 5 team heading into the 2023 playoffs.
Kyle Larson, No. 5
POINTS POSITION: Sixth with 2,017 points
POSITION TO CUT LINE: +10
SEASON STATS: Two wins, 10 top-10 finishes, 12 top-10s, three stage wins, two poles and 624 laps led.
RECAP HIS 2023 WINS:
1-Richmond Raceway (April 2)
2-Martinsville Speedway (April 16)
Non-points: All-Star Race (May 21)
MORE: How the NASCAR playoffs work | PLAYOFF ANALYSIS: Byron | No. 9 team
PLAYOFF ELIMINATION HISTORY: Won championship in 2021; Eliminated in Round of 8 in 2019; Eliminated in Round of 12 in 2022, 2018 and 2017; Eliminated in Round of 16 in 2016.
BEST PLAYOFF TRACK: Las Vegas Motor Speedway, with a win, six top-five finishes, 10 top-10s, 314 laps led and an average finish of 10.5 in 14 starts.
BEST ROUND OF 16 TRACK: Darlington Raceway, with five top-five finishes, seven top-10s, 715 laps led and an average finish of 10.2 in 11 starts.
AVERAGE FOUR-TIRE PIT STOP: 11.277 seconds, which ranks fifth best in the series (per Racing Insights).
PIT CREW MEMBERS: Blaine Anderson (front-tire changer), R.J. Barnette (tire carrier), Brandon Harder (fueler), Brandon Johnson (jackman) and Calvin Teague (rear-tire changer).
CREW CHIEF: Cliff Daniels, third season with Larson. The two won the 2021 championship together. | Learn more about Daniels
PHOTOS: See every win for Kyle Larson at Hendrick Motorsports
OUTLOOK: The Round of 16 sets up really well for Larson. He finished second at Kansas Speedway in the spring and was in the top two at Darlington before late-race contact derailed his day. Bristol Motor Speedway has been one of his stronger tracks, especially under the lights. The Round of 12 was Larson’s kryptonite last year, but it is also a tough one for the full playoff field to navigate with Talladega Superspeedway and the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL in that three-race set. The 31-year-old driver has wins at all three Round of 8 tracks (Las Vegas, Homestead-Miami Speedway and Martinsville Speedway). With the most top-five finishes in the playoff field (10) and a strong pit crew, he is among the favorites to reach the Championship 4. The key will be maintaining consistency and avoiding a rash of bad finishes – he had six finishes of 30th or worse this season. Larson's two points-paying wins and the All-Star win came with the short-track package, which will be utilized at three playoff tracks (Charlotte ROVAL, Martinsville and Phoenix Raceway).
WHAT LARSON IS SAYING IS A STRENGTH OF THE 5 TEAM: "We’ve been through a lot this year. I think we’ve done a really good job this year of not getting worked up. Something might happen to us early in the race, whether it be a bad pit stop or caution that doesn’t work out for us. Just something you could try to overcome too quickly and could mess up and ruin your day. We’ve had a handful of races this year we’ve started off and our car has driven terribly. Cliff (Daniels) and everybody works extremely hard on it and we’re contending for the win a couple hours later. I think that is where we’ve been really good this year. That is an area where I struggled last year and we’ve gotten a lot better this year."
WHAT ADVICE LARSON WOULD GIVE HIMSELF FROM PAST PLAYOFFS: "I’ve always had that mindset of don’t hurt yourself out there. Ultimately, that is what cost me last year. I made a mistake at the (Charlotte) ROVAL, hit the wall and ended up getting eliminated. If I didn’t do that, we would have moved on to the next round, won Homestead and been battling for a championship. Those little mistakes turn into big, costly mistakes."