Hendrick Motorsports driver Kyle Larson won the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Regular Season Championship Presented by Coca-Cola and was awarded the trophy after the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
The driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet has led the point standings since his fifth win of the season at Watkins Glen International earlier this month. For the season, he has five wins, 14 top fives and 18 top 10s — all of those marks are the best in the Cup Series this season. In his first year with Hendrick, Larson also won at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway in the Coca-Cola 600, Sonoma Raceway and Nashville Superspeedway as well as the non-points NASCAR All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway. In July, Larson inked an extension to keep him at Hendrick through the 2023 season.
“We had a stretch there where we won like every stage and every race for a few weeks in a row,” Larson said. “I think we took huge chunks out then. I think I read somewhere where we overcame I think a 166-point gap to Denny (Hamlin). I didn’t think it was possible, but our team has worked so hard all of the regular season. 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.”
Clinching the regular-season title hands Larson a 15-point bonus heading into the 10-race NASCAR Playoffs, which begin Sept. 5 with the Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. The top-10 finishers in the regular-season standings receive bonus points on a sliding scale, starting with 15 for first and ending with one playoff point for 10th.
With five victories, paired with a series-high 12 stage wins, Larson will carry 52 playoff points and will enter the postseason as the top seed.
“I mean, I think there’s a lot of good tracks for us,” Larson said. “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.”
Kevin Harvick won last year’s regular-season championship, Kyle Busch took the honor in 2018 and 2019, while Martin Truex Jr. scored the prize in 2017. Truex and Busch (in 2019) are the only regular-season champions to date to win the playoff title in the same season as the regular-season title.