Kyle Larson has signed a multiyear contract with Hendrick Motorsports to drive the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE beginning with the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season.
The 28-year-old driver will be paired with crew chief Cliff Daniels, who will shift from the No. 48 Chevrolet currently driven by seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson in his final full-time season.
“Hendrick Motorsports is a championship organization that has set a high bar for performance and for how drivers represent the team and its partners,” Larson said in a team release. “My goal is to win races, be a great teammate, continue my personal efforts to grow and hold myself to that high standard personally and professionally. Making the absolute most of this platform and the opportunity in front of me is my focus. I know what’s expected of me and what I expect of myself, on and off the track.
“Mr. Hendrick is one of the people who extended a hand to me over the past six months. Our initial conversations were not about racing. He cares about me as a person and wants to see me succeed beyond driving. I can’t put into words how grateful I am for the commitment, the faith and the confidence from him and everyone at Hendrick Motorsports.”
— Kyle Larson (@KyleLarsonRacin) October 28, 2020
RELATED: More on Larson’s reinstatement
Larson was reinstated by NASCAR officials on Oct. 19 following his completion of sensitivity training at the sanctioning body’s direction, more than six months after his April suspension for his use of a racial slur during an iRacing event. Larson continues to fulfill requirements in order to keep his NASCAR membership current, and his reinstatement will be effective on Jan. 1, 2021.
The Asian-American driver moved up the ranks through the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program, becoming the first graduate to race full time at the Cup Series level. Larson now serves as a mentor for the initiative, along with his work as a volunteer for the Urban Youth Racing School in Philadelphia, which provides a platform to expose students of color to motorsports.
Following his suspension, Larson also began working with Sanneh Foundation, a Minneapolis-based program to advance diversity, equity and community well-being.
Since his rookie season in 2014, Larson has accumulated six race victories, 101 top-10 finishes and four playoff appearances in 223 starts with former team Chip Ganassi Racing, which parted ways with Larson in April.
Larson will join current Hendrick Motorsports drivers Alex Bowman (moving to the No. 48), William Byron and Chase Elliott next season. The four drivers have a combined 18 Cup Series victories and have achieved 18 playoff berths.
MORE: A history of the No. 5
“Kyle is unquestionably one of the most talented race car drivers in the world,” said team owner Rick Hendrick. “He has championship-level ability and will be a significant addition to our on-track program. More importantly, I have full confidence that he understands our expectations and will be a tremendous ambassador for our team, our partners and NASCAR. Kyle and I have had many, many conversations leading up to today’s announcement. I’m confident about what’s in his heart and his desire to be a champion in all aspects of his life and career. Kyle has done important work over the past six months and Hendrick Motorsports is going to support those continued efforts.”
“I’m excited about our roster of young talent,” Hendrick added. “We have a team that is built to win races and compete for championships for years to come.”
Larson’s return will also mark the comeback for Hendrick Motorsports’ flagship No. 5 car, which last competed in 2017 with Kasey Kahne at the wheel. The organization will no longer field the No. 88, which has raced in the NASCAR Cup Series since 2008 with two-time Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Bowman. Larson will become the 10th driver to pilot the No. 5 for the Hendrick organization.
NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Terry Labonte experienced the most success in the No. 5 Chevrolet, earning 12 Cup Series victories and winning the 1996 championship. Other drivers to win with the famed number include Geoff Bodine (seven wins), Kahne (six), Mark Martin (five), Kyle Busch (four) and Ricky Rudd (four).
“The ‘5’ is special to me. It’s the original,” Hendrick said. “I view it as Hendrick Motorsports’ flagship team in a lot of ways. To bring the car back to the race track is meaningful for my family and for many of our team members and fans. We plan to build on its winning history with Kyle and Cliff.”
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