The NASCAR 2021 season has come to an end, and Kyle Larson is on top. He competed in the Cup Series Championship race at Phoenix Raceway on Sunday and crossed the finish line first to win the first Cup Series title in his career. Larson was the most dominant driver from the start of the season to the finish, and the championship comes after being suspended from NASCAR for most of the 2020 season.
" I can't … I cannot believe it," Larson said after climbing from his car, per NASCAR.com. "I didn't even think I'd be racing a Cup car a year and a half ago. To win a championship is crazy. I've got to say first-off thank you so much to (team owner) Rick Hendrick, Hendrickcars.com, Jeff Gordon, NASCAR, every single one of my supporters in the stands, watching at home and my family."
"There were so many points in this race where I did not think we were going to win. Without my pit crew on that last stop (on Lap 285), we would not be standing right here. They are the true winners of this race. They are true champions. I'm just blessed to be a part of this group. Every single man and woman at Hendrick Motorsports, this win is for all of us, and every one of you."
Larson was able to hold off the other Championship 4 drivers — Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr. and 2020 Cup Series Champion Chase Elliott — to win the race. He beat Truex to the finish line by .398 seconds, according to the Associated Press. Larson is a member of Hendrick Motorsports after being fired from Chip Ganassi Racing for using a racial slur during a virtual race in April 2020.
"I see you." 🥺❤️ pic.twitter.com/5PvM6btssY— NASCAR (@NASCAR) November 8, 2021
"I think just thinking about the journey and how tough of a road it's been to get to this point for so long, but especially the last year and a half, and too," Larson said. "I think just the atmosphere, I haven't felt an atmosphere like this maybe ever. With the pressure of this race and everything that was on the line, to win this championship — every one of these fans made me feel it. I was trying to tell myself to just chill out, stop tearing up. I make fun of my dad all the time for crying, and I'm worse than he is." Larson won 10 Cup Series races this year and became the first driver to have 10 wins and a championship in a season since Jimmie Johnson did it in 2007.