Kyle Larson Crowned NCS Regular Season Champion

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The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) season has been an unprecedented year for Kyle Larson. The battle for the NCS Regular Season Championship all came down to the 400-mile, 160-lap race at the famed Daytona International Speedway, where the 29-year-old Hendrick Motorsports driver captured his first-career NCS Regular Season Championship title. In addition to the title, the Chevrolet driver will enter the 10-race playoff run with 15 additional playoff points to kickoff the fight for the coveted title of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Champion. 
“Our team has worked so hard all of the regular season,” said Larson. “I couldn’t do it without Mr. Hendrick and Linda and all of their support. Everybody back at the shop, too. This is a long season and we still have 10 races to go. It’s a long point to get here and it’s just a big hats off to everybody at the shop. HendrickCars.com, Valvoline, Tarlton and Son, everybody who’s been on board to help us out this year.”
Larson’s debut season with Hendrick Motorsports and the No. 5 Camaro ZL1 1LE team took the NASCAR Cup Series competition by storm. Through 26 races thus far, Larson leads the series in wins with five, a career-best; top-five finishes (14); top-10’s (18); stage wins (12); 37 playoff points; and a career-best 1,566 laps led. The Hendrick Motorsports driver took over the point lead from Denny Hamlin following his win at Watkins Glen and came into the regular-season finale at the World Center of Racing with a 28-point advantage. 
“Congratulations to Kyle Larson, Cliff Daniels and the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet team on clinching the NASCAR Cup Series Regular Season Championship,” said Jim Campbell, GM U.S. Vice President of Performance and Motorsports. “It was quite a battle right to the end, but the combination of the most wins, top-five’s, top-10 finishes, stage wins and laps led made the difference to secure this Regular Season Championship. The team has momentum going into the Playoffs.”
The 16-driver playoff field is set for the NASCAR Cup Series, with six Chevrolet drivers securing their chance to battle for the NASCAR Cup Series Championship: Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Alex Bowman, William Byron, Kurt Busch, and Tyler Reddick. Heading into the 10-race stretch, momentum is with the Bowtie Brand after capturing 13 wins in 26 NCS races.  
Chevrolet is entering the championship hunt in search of a back-to-back NASCAR Cup Series Driver Championship after Hendrick Motorsports driver, Chase Elliott, captured his first-career Championship in 2020, giving Chevrolet its 32nd Championship title in NASCAR’s premier series. The Bowtie Brand also sits atop the NCS Manufacturer Standings in pursuit of its 40th title. “It’s great to have six Chevrolet drivers locked into the 2021 Playoffs,” said Campbell.  There are three rounds of Playoffs (3 races per round) in the 2021 format, plus one final championship-crowning season finale. Four drivers will be eliminated following each round of three. The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs commences at Darlington Raceway with the annual Cook Out Southern 500 at 6 p.m. ET on September 5. Live coverage of the 367-mile, 501.3-mile race can be found on NBCSN, MRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.  KYLE LARSON, NO. 5 VALVOLINE INSTANT OIL CHANGE CAMARO ZL1 1LE, Press Conference Transcript: THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Kyle Larson. Congratulations on winning the NASCAR regular season championship. Give us a quick recap of the race from your vantage point, but also the opportunity to take home that regular season championship trophy.
KYLE LARSON: Yeah, the race went well until the last lap. We didn’t get any stage points the first time, first stage, and the 11 did. I felt like after thinking about it a little bit more if I could just kind of follow him and stay close to him in the second stage, he wouldn’t gain much on me.
It actually ended up where I beat him in the second stage. That gave me a little bit more comfort going into the final one. We were able to dodge a couple wrecks. He actually got collected in one of them. Then it was kind of go for the win at that point.
Just things didn’t work out for me in the green-white-checkered. Ended up getting shuffled back, then getting right in the middle of that wreck. Yeah, bummer that we didn’t get to finish well, but we accomplished the goal going into tonight, which was coming away with the regular season title.Got those 15 bonus points. Now we can look forward to the next 10 weeks and hopefully get some more wins.
THE MODERATOR: We’ll take questions for Kyle.
Q.How special is it to lead the way with an historical team and number?KYLE LARSON: It’s cool. I think just racing the car in general for Mr. H, what that paint scheme and number means to him, it means a lot to me for him to kind of have that trust in me to carry it on. Had a lot of success with it this year, have ourselves positioned in a good spot to chase the championship.
Would have loved to put that car and that paint scheme with HendrickCars.com on it in Victory Lane more often throughout the rest of the year, especially in Phoenix.
Q.You’ll have a huge points lead going into the round of 16. With that margin, what tracks do you have circled in the Playoffs that you feel more confident about?KYLE LARSON: I mean, I think there’s a lot of good tracks for us. I don’t know which ones specifically. I feel like we have a shot to win anywhere right now. That’s encouraging.
I really just look forward to getting it started next week, kind of getting into the flow of that, racing in the Playoffs against multiple other drivers chasing points and wins.
Yeah, I feel good about it.
Q.What is the possibility seeing all Hendrick cars make the Final 4?KYLE LARSON: It would be hard to get all of us in the Final 4 at Phoenix, but it’s not impossible either. We’ve all four been really strong I feel like all season long. It’s been nice to have us all win this year and challenge for many other wins. Yeah, it’s not impossible, but it’s definitely going to be tough. That would be awesome.
Q.You’re a guy that’s used to going out and your philosophy is win, win, win. How are you going to temper that balance to win a championship? You’ve never really been in a position to be the favorite going into the Playoffs, at least at the Cup level?KYLE LARSON: I don’t know, I feel like we’ve kind of had that mindset the last month or so already. It’s not been all about just winning. Once points kind of came into the picture of us being able to beat the 11, kind of points racing against him. I think getting into that mindset, that kind of style it takes to not be so go for broke, which I feel like is a lot of what you need. You obviously have to have that go for broke somewhere in your arsenal.
Yeah, I think a lot of it, you can’t make any big mistakes and take yourself out of it. That’s what we’ve been doing this last month and a half or so. I feel like that’s been good to prep us leading into the Playoffs.
Q.Is there anything you’re looking at as far as changing what you have been doing? Will you continue to race as much outside of NASCAR?KYLE LARSON: I don’t know. I mean, I’ve answered that question a lot. Naturally the schedule, there’s not a lot of midweek racing. There’s no speedweeks and stuff this time of year. I can’t go race as much as I have been.
I’m still going to race. I think it’s been a big part of what’s made me, what’s gotten us to this point, this strong on Sundays, is being fresh throughout the week. Competing is a big part of me.Yeah, I’m going to race when I can. Hopefully we do a good job in the Playoffs.
Q.From your point of view, what differences did you see with the package compared to Daytona and Talladega earlier this season?KYLE LARSON: I didn’t really get to race Talladega. Race ended before the race started almost.The 500, from what I remember of that, I feel like the runs were maybe just a touch smaller. Maybe it was a little easier to block runs and stuff because of that.
But really I didn’t think it was way different. The other drivers who kind of were up front would maybe have a different opinion. From where I was, I didn’t think it was way different.
Q.Looking forward to the Playoffs, are there any tracks in particular that you’re looking forward to the most?KYLE LARSON: I mean, I think I’m happy to start off at Darlington. It’s a fun racetrack. There’s a lot of good racetracks for us and our race team. I’m really looking forward to Bristol. It’s my favorite race of the year, favorite racetrack. We only get to go there really once this year I feel like. Hopefully take advantage of that and have a good time and get my first win at Bristol.
Yeah, I mean, there’s a lot of good tracks. Really we look forward to all of them.
Q.Talladega is not that far away. Did you learn anything you can take to Talladega from tonight?KYLE LARSON: I’m not sure. Obviously there’s always something that you take away from each race. I think after going back and looking at some video, really studying this race, I think you’ll be able to learn a little bit more going to Talladega.
Yeah, I don’t know. I haven’t really thought about it yet.
Q.Looking ahead to the Playoffs, is there a certain driver or team you feel is your biggest competition?KYLE LARSON: I mean, I think everybody has had their moments of being really strong this year. I think the three others, my teammates, are going to be really tough. I think I look at obviously Denny, Martin, Kyle Busch as probably being the three others besides our team that stand out.
I feel like there’s always one or two guys that you don’t really notice that much during the regular season, maybe don’t even notice that much in the first round, but really start hitting their stride after that. There’s probably definitely a few wild cards out there. You won’t really know who they are until we get a few races in.
THE MODERATOR: Kyle, thank you for joining us. Congratulations once again. Best of luck in the Playoffs this season.
KYLE LARSON: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports