Kyle Larson bounced back from rock bottom in 2020 to claim the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series title at Phoenix, but how many races did he win along the way?
First win at Hendrick for Kyle Larson
Returning to the Cup Series in 2021, Larson replaced veteran seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson at Hendrick Motorsports.
Although Johnson’s #48 was taken over by Alex Bowman, in practice, Larson’s new #5 team is Johnson’s #48.
He got the team, whereas Bowman got the stickers and sponsors.
Bowman renumbered from the #88 he had taken over from Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Larson was quickly on the pace at Hendrick, winning in his fourth race for the squad.
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He took the win at Las Vegas in March to record his first in the Cup Series since Dover fall in 2019 for Ganassi.
Steady results followed, before Larson burst into life at the Coke 600 at Charlotte.
Larson crushes the field with win streak
It triggered run of three wins in a row – a career best for him.
He crushed the field at Charlotte to win his first crown jewel event, before following it up at Sonoma and Nashville.
And it could easily have been four wins on the trot – had he not suffered a last lap puncture at Pocono 1.
These wins came on the back of a three second place finishes in a row in the immediate three races prior.
His fifth win of the year at Watkins Glen moved him into the regular season points lead ahead of long-time leader Denny Hamlin.
Larson’s sixth win of 2021, and first in the Playoffs came at Bristol – his first ever at the venue.
He did not need to win to book a slot in the Round of 12, as he had already advanced on points after Richmond.
In the Round of 12 eliminator at the Charlotte Roval, he overcame battery and alternator issues to win.
The pit-crew changed the alternator belt of the #5 machine and got him back into the race.
It did look as if Larson would miss the semi-finals at one point, but he charged back through to claim win number seven of 2021.
His victory at the Roval made him the first NASCAR driver ever to win three road course races in the same season.
In the first race of the semi-finals at Texas, the #5 put on a dominant display leading 256 laps of 334 for his eighth win of the campaign.
It locked Larson into the championship race at Phoenix.
Just for good measure, he went on to win at Kansas as well to start the Round of 8 with two wins.
It means Larson has won four races on 1.5 mile tracks in 2021 – venues that had previously been a weakness for him.
At Kansas, he also eclipsed Jeff Gordon’s long-held record for most laps led in a 36-race season.
Larson passed 2,320 laps led in 2021, thus taking Gordon’s record. It is the most laps led since 1995.
Oh, and for the record, he also won the non-points All-Star race at Texas.
Kyle Larson wins the title at Phoenix
Larson started well by sticking the #5 Chevy on the pole at Phoenix.
His machine looked stronger on short runs whereas rivals Martin Truex Jr and Denny Hamlin looked to have the long run advantage.
A caution with 30 laps to go brought the field to pit-road.
Larson’s crew delivered their second fastest stop of 2021 to vault him from fourth to the lead.
Larson then saw off Truex Jr’s attention over the closing stages to win his 10th race of the season.
It delivered him his maiden Cup Series title – finally delivering on the promise he’s always had.
In the end, the right driver won the title.
Season-high stats for Larson
He has a series high 10 race wins to go with 17 stage wins – also the best in the field.
Not since Johnson in 2007 has someone got into double figures in terms of race wins.
Larson has more than doubled his total career wins tally in 2021. He now sits on 16 Cup wins.
Kyle Larson wins in 2021
- Las Vegas
- Charlotte – Coke 600
- Watkins Glen
- Charlotte – Roval
- Phoenix – Championship race
What other races has Kyle Larson won in 2021?
It’s been a dominant year on the race track for Larson.
Rick Hendrick is a man famed for not allowing his drivers to compete regularly outside of Cup.
As well as his 10 points Cup wins and the All-Star in 2021, Larson has won the following events, including the dirt and short track disciplines:
- Chili Bowl
- Kings Royal
- Prarie Dirt Classic
- Knoxville Nationals
- NASCAR Cup regular season title
What about Larson’s Hendrick teammates?
Between them, the four Hendrick Motorsports drivers have posted 17 wins in 2021.
Larson has 10 of them.
Next up is Bowman on four – a career high.
He took the wins at Richmond, Dover and Pocono 1.
Reigning champion Chase Elliott has two – both on road courses.
They have come in the sodden race at Circuit of the Americas and at Wisconsin’s Road America.
William Byron’s #24 has a single win – at Homestead in the third round of the season.
17 wins marks the best tally for Hendrick in a single season since 2015.
That year, Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr and Jeff Gordon combined for nine wins.
This article was last updated on October 10th, 2021