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Kyle Larson Named to NASCAR’s 75 Greatest Drivers List
The Hendrick Motorsports wheelman is one of 25 new additions to the celebratory list.
Forging a name for oneself as a professional athlete is about as difficult as it comes, but part of the immense joy that comes with being a great athlete stems from the chance our heroes have to carry on their legacy long after their time on the court, field, and asphalt is over. What one must endure to become something more, something transcendent is often overlooked for just the end result, but for those select few that succeed in elevating their stature along their journey, immortality among their brethren in the history books awaits. Now, NASCAR welcomes one of its own into its hallowed halls: Kyle Larson.
Cementing his legacy along with 24 other drivers, Hendrick Motorsports’ wheelman Kyle Larson has been named to NASCAR’s Greatest Drivers list in celebration of the sport’s 75th anniversary. The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion learned of the jubilant news Thursday on phone call with NASCAR Chairman and CEO Bill France and Vice Chairman Mike Helton.
The prestigious list of NASCAR’s 75 Greatest Drivers is an extension of the well-received program that began 25 years ago in 1998 to recognize the 50 Greatest Drivers for the league’s 50th anniversary. Speaking about the honorary list, France heaped praise on “the men who defined competition” of the sport.
“Their accomplishments are the benchmark that much of our history is identified by,” France added. “Honoring them in this way, at the beginning of the NASCAR 50th anniversary celebration, is one way of showing our true appreciation for them and the invaluable contribution they have given over the past 50 years. These are the drivers who made and make NASCAR fans stand on their feet and cheer. These are the drivers who are NASCAR history.”
Making the list is no easy feat and an honor bestowed on only the best of the best. The 30-year-old Larson has been a formidable presence in the Cup Series for nearly a decade, trading paint with many a NASCAR legend along the way. After proving himself to be a juggernaut on the dirt tracks, winning the Kings Royal, the Knoxville Nationals and the Chili Bowl Nationals, the Elk Grove, California native cruised into the Xfinity Series in 2013 after four Craftsman Truck Series starts in 2012. In total, Larson’s the proud owner of 13 Xfinity wins to go along with his pair of Truck Series trophies.
Once he made the leap into NASCAR’s top flight, he quickly found success, steering his way to the 2014 Cup Series Rookie of the Year award. During his tenure in the Cup Series, Larson, who now pilots the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro for Hendrick Motorsports after first starting with Chip Ganassi’s now defunct outfit, has amassed a whopping 20 victories in NASCAR's most elite series, including winning the 2021 Cup Series championship. His first win in the Cup Series arrived in 2016 at Michigan International Speedway.
He joined Hendrick Motorsports in 2021 and dominated the field by winning 10 of 36 races en route to his inaugural Cup Series championship. Racing fans will remember one of his greatest wins that season during the Coca-Cola 600 where he led 327 laps.
His 14 victories with Hendrick are the fourth most in the organization’s history, and Larson also owns the most wins in the No. 5 car that includes a list of greats such as Terry Labonte (12 wins), Kasey Kahne (six wins), Mark Martin (five wins) and Kyle Busch (four wins). Furthermore, his 2,581 laps led in a single season – his electrifying 2021 Cup Series championship season – were the most since his team’s vice chairman Jeff Gordon led 2,610 in his first of four championship years in 1995.
He's certainly not done, but this is a pretty nice mile marker to hit.