Feb 17, 2022
EP 129 - Kyle Larson
Today on the show is our very good friend Kyle Larson. We raced together for years. In 2021, Kyle won The Championship in Phoenix. He also won 11 Cup Races, and 34 Dirt Races. Kyle made a regretful mistake that nearly cost him everything he had, but with hard work and determination, he came back better than ever. We talked about how he and his family coped with those dark times. Mostly we talked about racing. The real nitty, gritty, what preparation looks like for the season. What matters more the car or the driver, the engine, the pit crew? We talked Dirt Racing, which I just don’t get, because it is dirty and it is dangerous. For all you race fans out there you are going to like this episode. Enjoy!
With a win in the season finale at Phoenix Raceway, Kyle Larson etched his name in the record books as the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion. Paired with crew chief Cliff Daniels, Larson 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 14-time Cup champions Hendrick Motorsports. During Larson’s career-best 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 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 16-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 May 2020, Larson also began working with the Minneapolis-based Sanneh Foundation to advance diversity, equity and community well-being. Last March, Larson announced the launch of the Kyle Larson Foundation (KyleLarsonFoundation.org), which was established to better serve today’s youth, families and communities in need through hands-on support. The Sanneh Foundation and the Urban Youth Racing School are the primary beneficiaries of the foundation, which also works closely with Hendrick Cares, the corporate social responsibility program of Hendrick Automotive Group. To kickstart the “Drive for 5,” Larson pledged a personal donation of $5 for every Cup Series lap he completed last season and contributed another $5,000 for every top-five finish for a total of $145,000. The Elk Grove, California, native has won more than 250 events across a variety of sanctioning bodies and vehicle styles. Larson 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 K&N Pro Series East, a feeder circuit to NASCAR’s national-level touring.