CONCORD, N.C. – Kyle Larson's 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season had several highlights for him and the No. 5 HendrickCars.com team throughout the year.
The 31-year-old driver scored four wins. As evidenced by leading the series in laps led (1,127), the Cliff Daniels-led team brought race-winning speed to track consistently. Whether it was dominating the All-Star Race, winning a crown jewel event or going to victory lane at clutch moments in the postseason, 2023 was a memorable year for both driver and team.
In the opening half of the regular season, Larson seemingly had a shot to win every week. He led 582 laps in the opening 13 races. In March, the driver of the No. 5 made his 300th Cup Series start when the series raced at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
The spring swing through Virginia proved fruitful for the 31-year-old driver. At Richmond Raceway, he earned his first victory of the season. Two weeks later, Larson would score an emotional victory at Martinsville Speedway, a track he had struggled at before he arrived at Hendrick Motorsports in 2021. After scoring the two victories in Virginia, Larson's season had some peaks and valleys. While there were six finishes outside the top 25 over his final 17 regular season races, there were also six top-five finishes and eight top-10s in that stretch.
In the middle of all that came Larson's third victory in All-Star Race. The 2023 event was held at North Wilkesboro Speedway, which hosted its first Cup event since 1996. After pitting for fresh tires early, Larson and the No. 5 team dominated, leading 145 of 200 laps to score the million-dollar win.
SEASON RECAPS: Alex Bowman | Chase Elliott | William Byron
Larson opened the postseason as the seventh seed but wasted no time securing his spot in the Round of 12. The Southern 500 and a Cup Series win at Darlington Raceway had long eluded the 2021 Cup Series champion, but he was not to be denied over Labor Day weekend. Capitalizing on adjustments made by Daniels and the pit crew, Larson led the final 55 laps and scored the win at the South Carolina track. The victory also marked the 500th national series win for the Hendrick Motorsports engine shop. Larson compiled an average finish of 2.3 in the opening round of the playoffs.
The Round of 12 would prove to be a bit more difficult. Despite leading 99 laps at Texas Motor Speedway, Larson was caught up in a late-race incident and a 15th-place finish at Talladega Superspeedway left him in a tight spot to advance. Adding to the drama was a practice incident ahead of the cutoff race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL that left the team starting from the 36th spot. Through pit strategy and track smarts, Larson drove to a 13th-place finish and advanced the group onto the Round of 8.
Larson opened that round with a win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and it was a triumph that was helped by some great work on pit road by the No. 5 HendrickCars.com pit crew. The crew of Blaine Anderson (front-tire changer), R.J. Barnette (tire carrier), Brandon Harder (fueler), Brandon Johnson (jackman) and Calvin Teague (rear-tire changer) had the second-fastest four-tire stop average of the year at 11.033 seconds. That victory put Larson into the Championship 4 for the second time in three years. In the title race at Phoenix Raceway, he got the championship lead late off of pit road but was unable to hold off eventual champion Ryan Blaney over the final 31-lap green-flag run.
Away from Hendrick Motorsports, Larson won the High Limit Sprint Car Series championship. He founded the series in 2022 with his brother-in-law and five-time World of Outlaws Series Champion Brad Sweet. He also notched a NASCAR Xfinity Series win and a NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series triumph.
Off the track, Larson's foundation (The Kyle Larson Foundation) is dedicated to bringing people together and providing support to hands-on charitable organizations that benefit today’s youth, families and communities in need. This fall's special sweepstakes to win his 2023 Chevrolet Colorado truck raised money for the foundation's "DRIVE FOR 5" campaign. Click here to check out this custom ride and enter to win today. He hosted the Urban Youth Racing School's Grand Prix for the past two years.
2023 SEASON STATS FOR LARSON
Top fives: 15 (tied for the series lead)
Top 10s: 18
Stage wins: 8
Laps led: 1,127 (led series)
Average finish: 14.6
Standings position: Second
PHOTOS: All of Larson's wins at Hendrick Motorsports
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Kyle Larson on turning the page following his second-place finish in the final standings:
"Coming up this close, I’m probably more eager for the following season already. I know where I need to improve. I'm just ready to get back on the track and work on all that."
Cliff Daniels reflecting on the 2023 season for the No. 5 team:
"In all through the battle-testing we had, we proved our resilience from a lot of those situations and from rebounding from a lot of those situations. Momentum is a real thing. It can be very easy to lose momentum when you are competing at a high level and that gets taken from you or you don’t get the result that you want or you have a bad week. Our team was able to stay on track through a lot of those challenges this year. ... We missed the mark of our ultimate goal, which is the win the championship. There are so many valuable lessons that we learned along the way both in our failures and our successes that I know are going to make us better and stronger moving forward.
In an era where one race decides the championship, it can be easy to look at a year without a title as a disappointment. However, doing so would sweep under the rug what was a strong season for Larson and his No. 5 team.
In 2024, Larson will look to reach the Championship 4 for the third time in four years as he aims for his second title with Daniels. The two bring out the best in each other and that should only continue in the new season. Expect plenty of laps led, wins and front-running results on their ledger. Grabbing some additional playoff points early in the regular season would be very beneficial as the driver and team look to pave an easier road back to the title race.
PHOTOS: See the livery for #Hendrick1100 | Behind-the-scenes with Larson at Indianapolis
Outside of the Cup Series, Larson will be competing in the Indianapolis 500 through a partnership Hendrick Motorsports has with Arrow McLaren. Larson knocked out his Rookie Orientation Program in October in his first on-track time behind the wheel of an IndyCar. He will look to complete what is being dubbed the #Hendrick1100 over Memorial Day weekend -- the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600.