Kyle Larson Is the Best Thing Going in Motorsports Right Now

Kyle Larson Is the Best Thing Going in Motorsports Right Now

06/07/2021

Dirt, pavement or road courses, it doesn’t matter.

It’s been two decades since motorsports has produced something like the Kyle Larson Show. The 28-year-old captured his third NASCAR Cup Series victory on Sunday at home at Sonoma Raceway in California.

Over the past seven days, Larson earned his first victory in a Cup Series major in dominating the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The very next night, he was in unassuming Lawrenceburg Indiana, where he dominated against the World of Outlaws.

He would have raced on Wednesday in a Late Model but was required to compete in the televised iRacing event on FOX Sports. Back in the real world, he swept every stage for the second week in a row in his Cup car to win for the first time on a road course.

While crossing the line, Eldora Speedway revealed that Larson had officially filed an entry to compete in the Late Model Dream in the No. 6 K&L Rumley Enterprises car that he has started to race with greater frequency over the past year.

#DLMDreams pic.twitter.com/jHDFITZ8tc

Prior to last season, Larson hadn’t even raced a Dirt Late Model, and he’s already picked up a half dozen touring victories against the best in that discipline. Larson is absolutely a favorite to claim The Dream, too.

He won 46 times in 97 appearances last year across dirt Sprint Cars, Midgets and Super Late Models. He is approaching Tony Stewart territory in his elite versatility.

Remember that guy? The same Stewart that won every USAC championship, won the Indy Racing League championship and then became a three-time Cup Series champion. There are certainly parallels.

Now driving the best equipment in NASCAR, Larson is leading the Cup Series in victories and is absolutely a championship threat in this discipline, too. It makes a certain subset of the motorsports community roll their collective eyes, but Larson is absolutely one of the best race cars drivers on the planet right now.

“All you want as a race car driver is to be able to win every night and that’s what I have right now,” Larson told Autoweek on Monday after winning at Lawrenceburg. “Every time I show up at the track, I have a shot, no matter what type of car I’m in and that’s exciting.”

Kyle Larson on picking up a big payday tonight at Lawrenceburg and an ultra big payday in the Coca-Cola 600.

It’s been a big 2021 for Larson so far. pic.twitter.com/z1FCP7Q3AE

Those who don’t respect what Larson has done in a Sprint Car or Midget over the past decade would always say, ‘yeah, but he hasn’t done it in NASCAR.’ In hindsight, Larson was overachieving with Chip Ganassi Racing and has been absolutely unleashed by Hendrick Motorsports this season.

Superspeedways, intermediates, short tracks and road courses, Larson is leading laps everywhere this season. Ironically, his worst result was at Bristol on dirt when he tanged with fellow Sprint Car archetype Christopher Bell.

Larson, crew chief Cliff Daniels and the No. 5 team are the complete package right now.

“Right now, I feel like we could go to any racetrack and be good,” Larson said. “There were still times I think in 2017 where, yeah, we won a lot, ran up front a lot, but there were still races where we were just average.

“Seems like this year we’ve been strong at every racetrack. I feel like I’m confident as a driver in what I’ve been learning, getting better at. I definitely feel like I’m a better driver than I was in 2017. But our team is also extremely good right now.”

So who knows how the rest of the season with play out on the NASCAR side, especially with the Russian Roulette that is the Cup Series playoffs, but Larson is at the top of his game right now.

“It’s definitely a very special place to be in for our whole team,” Daniels said. “There’s been a lot that has gone into getting us where we are. Kyle had an amazing year on the racetrack and had a lot he had to overcome last year off the racetrack. He’s probably never been in a better spot in his career now. He’s definitely amazing in any car that he gets in every week.”

Any narrative about Larson and his growth as a racer must also reference his growth behind the scenes.

He was fired and suspended last season, missing most of the campaign as a result of using a racial slur on an iRacing stream, not filing for reinstatement until October.

Larson doesn’t talk about the work he has done to make amends, but there has been a tremendous amount of diligence placed towards his education. He has attended sensitivity training, increased his work with various urban youth organizations and opened a charity that raises money for children, families and communities in need of support.

The Drive for 5 Foundation has pledged $5 for every NASCAR Cup lap Larson completes this season and another $5,000 for every top-five finish he earns. Doing the math, Larson has agreed to donate $65,480 this season by the halfway mark.

“It’s cool,” Larson said. “With each lap completed, the wins and stuff, the money gets bigger. It’s definitely in the back of my mind and adds a little more pressure to go out there and complete every lap and win.

Cool that I’m able to raise that money, work together with some great organizations through it. Definitely need to keep stacking that money up there. We have a goal of getting to $500,000. Hopefully we can raise some more money throughout the year with running up front, doing good, but also fans can donate as well.”

If Larson keeps this up, he’ll be in Phoenix in November racing for a championship, and there will be no shortage of opportunities to raise money and cement his legacy as one of the greatest versatile racers of his generation … if not ever.

“There’s still a lot of racing left,” Larson said. “I think if you were to point right now at a favorite, I think for sure you’d have to look at us, with us running up front, leading lots of laps, getting the stage wins, things like that, and now getting a couple race wins these last two weeks.

“It’s still a long ways left to go. Teams are going to get better. Teams are going to fade. I just hope we’re a team that continues to get better, keeps getting these wins, hopefully be battling my teammates for a championship in Phoenix later this year.”

That doesn’t even count the Late Model Dream, Kings Royal, Knoxville Nationals and whatever other trophies he claims this summer.


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