Kyle Larson, the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion, begins his third season with Hendrick Motorsports. Paired with crew chief Cliff Daniels, the duo looks to add to their series-best total of 13 wins over the past two seasons and are on the hunt for their second championship together.
Larson started 2022 the same way he ended 2021- out front. The defending champion won the pole position for the DAYTONA 500 season opener. The 30-year-old posted impressive numbers during the season in victories (three), top-five finishes (13), top-10s (19), laps led (635) and average start (7.9). Larson visited victory lane at Auto Club Speedway for a second time, Watkins Glen International for a second time and Homestead-Miami Speedway for the first time. Larson's win at the south Florida track secured the No. 5 team's place in the owner’s Championship 4. He ended the 2022 season seventh in the driver standings and finished with 295 career Cup Series starts to his name.
In July of 2022, Larson won the Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly (ESPYS) Best Driver Award. Larson beat out fellow motorsports stars Max Verstappen (Formula One), Steve Torrence (NHRA) and Alex Palou (IndyCar). NASCAR Hall of Famers and fellow Hendrick alumni Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson each own four ESPY awards for the same distinction. In September, he signed a three-year extension that keeps him with the organization through 2026.
Larson also tallied a victory in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2022. His victory at Watkins Glen was the 13th of his career in the series. In all three of his series starts, he finished in the top five.
In 2021, Larson dominated the Cup Series. His first season with Hendrick Motorsports was not only a career-best year, but a record-setting season capped off with a championship coronation. With a win in the season finale at Phoenix Raceway, Larson etched his name in the record books as the 2021 Cup Series champion. Together, Larson and Daniels won five of 10 playoff races and 10 total points-paying events to secure his first Cup title in his seventh full-time season and first with the 14-time Cup Series championship-winning organization.
In his championship season, the driver of the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet paced the field 2,581 times – the most in a season since four-time Cup Series champion and now vice chairman of Hendrick Motorsports Jeff Gordon led 2,610 laps in 1995. Larson posted career-best numbers in victories (10), top-five finishes (20), top-10s (26), laps led (2,581), average start (6.1) and stage victories (18) – all tops in NASCAR’s premier series in 2021. Larson also won $1 million with his victory in the annual non-points NASCAR All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway.
Including 60 dirt-track races, Larson won 34 percent of the races he competed in 2021 with 33 victories across 97 events. Among those victories were his first trips to victory lane in the prestigious Knoxville Nationals and Kings Royal sprint car events, Larson’s first win in the Prairie Dirt Classic dirt late model race and his second consecutive victory in Chili Bowl Midget Nationals.
The 19-time Cup race winner is half Japanese and the only Asian-American to regularly compete in NASCAR. He is the first NASCAR Drive for Diversity graduate to race full-time at the Cup level and now serves as a mentor for the program. Since 2018, he has been a volunteer with the Urban Youth Racing School in Philadelphia, which helps expose students of color to motor sports. In July of 2022, the UYRS hosted the "Grand Prix of Philadelphia with Kyle Larson and Friends," where the two brought the Grand Prix to the inner city and Larson and his fellow Chevrolet drivers were able to race with students and rub some fenders. In May 2020, he also began working with the Minneapolis-based Sanneh Foundation to advance diversity, equity and community well-being.
In March of 2021, Larson announced the launch of the Kyle Larson Foundation (KyleLarsonFoundation.org). The foundation is designed to bring people together and provide support to hands-on charitable organizations that benefit today’s youth, families and communities in need. Larson also announced the "Drive For 5" campaign with the goal to raise $500,000 to fund five students, feed five families, and benefit five communities. To kickstart "Drive for 5," Larson pledged a personal donation of $5 for every Cup Series lap he raced in 2021 and contributed another $5,000 for every top-five finish for a total of $145,000. The Sanneh Foundation and the Urban Youth Racing School are the foundation's main beneficiaries, which also works closely with Hendrick Cares, the corporate social responsibility program of Hendrick Automotive Group.
Larson has won more than 250 career events across a variety of sanctioning bodies and vehicle styles. The Elk Grove, California, native began driving at age 7 and has raced stock cars, winged and non-winged sprint cars, dirt late models, karts, trucks, and sports cars.
In 2012, Larson was signed by Earnhardt Ganassi Racing as a developmental driver. He secured two victories, eight top-five finishes and 12 top-10s in 14 races en route to winning the championship in the ARCA Menards Series East, a feeder circuit to NASCAR’s national-level touring series. The following year, he competed full-time in NASCAR’s version of Triple-A, the Xfinity Series, capturing nine top-five finishes and 17 top-10s in 33 starts and an eighth-place ranking in the final point standings.
Larson also made his Cup Series debut in 2013, starting 21st and finishing 37th after his No. 51 entry experienced engine issues at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He made three more Cup starts that season before competing full-time in the series the next year.
Driving for Chip Ganassi Racing, Larson won 2014 Cup Series rookie of the year honors with eight top-five finishes and 17 top-10s in 36 starts. He finished 17th in the final standings and won his first pole position in NASCAR’s highest division, setting the fastest time in qualifying at Pocono Raceway.
During his sophomore season of 2015, Larson notched two top-five finishes and 10 top-10s in 35 starts to finish 19th in the standings. He also participated in the Rolex 24 at DAYTONA with co-drivers Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan and Jamie McMurray, winning overall in only his second attempt in the storied twice-around-the-clock endurance sports car race.
Larson’s first trip to victory lane in the Cup Series occurred in August 2016 when he led the final 10 laps at Michigan International Speedway to capture the checkered flag. Along with that victory, Larson recorded 10 top-five finishes and 15 top-10s to rank ninth in the final standings.
The breakout year for the Chevrolet driver occurred in 2017. Larson led a race-high 110 laps from the pole to triumph at Auto Club in March before winning his second consecutive Michigan event – also from the pole – in June. In August, he won his third straight Michigan race before claiming his fourth win of the year at Richmond Raceway in September. Along with his victories, Larson collected 15 top-five finishes, 20 top-10s, three pole positions and 1,352 laps led to finish eighth in the final standings.
The following year, Larson finished ninth in the standings with 12 top-five finishes and 19 top-10s. He collected three pole positions and led 782 laps during the 36-race season.
Larson won the NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte in May 2019 while his lone points-paying victory that year occurred at Dover Motor Speedway in October. Overall, he tallied eight top-five finishes, 17 top-10s and posted his career-best finish of sixth in the Cup Series standings.
In 2020, Larson turned in one of the most impressive years in the history of dirt-track racing. While primarily driving sprint cars, he crisscrossed the country and racked up an incredible 46 victories in 97 attempts. He led the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series in victories with 12 despite competing in only 26 of its 54 events and secured his first Lucas Oil Dirt Late Model Series win in only his second start.
When not racing at NASCAR’s highest level or at a short track, the father of three enjoys spending time with wife Katelyn and their children. In 2022, the Larsons welcomed their newest son Cooper on New Year’s Eve. Cooper joins the couple’s oldest two kids – son Owen (age eight) and daughter Audrey (age four).