Kyle Larson Back In Cup Series With Hendrick Motorsports; No. 5 Team Returning

(Press release from Hendrick Motorsports)

Kyle Larson (Photo: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

Hendrick Motorsports this morning signed driver Kyle Larson to a multi-year contract that will see him join the 12-time NASCAR Cup Series champions beginning with the 2021 racing season. He will pilot the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, which the organization will field for the first time since 2017.

Larson has won more than 250 events across a variety of sanctioning bodies and vehicle styles. The Elk Grove, California, native began driving at age 7 and has raced stock cars, winged and non-winged sprint cars, karts, trucks, and sports cars. In 2021, he will be paired with crew chief Cliff Daniels, 32, who currently leads the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team with seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson.

“Kyle is unquestionably one of the most talented race car drivers in the world,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. “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.”

Larson, 28, is half Japanese and the only Asian-American to regularly compete in NASCAR. He is the first NASCAR Drive for Diversity graduate to race full-time at the Cup level and now serves as a mentor for the program. Since 2018, he has been a volunteer with the Urban Youth Racing School in Philadelphia, which helps expose students of color to motor sports. In May, Larson also began working with the Minneapolis-based Sanneh Foundation to advance diversity, equity and community well-being. He and wife Katelyn live in North Carolina with their son Owen and daughter Audrey.

“Hendrick Motorsports is a championship organization that has set a high bar for performance and for how its drivers represent the team and its partners,” Larson said. “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.”

Larson made his NASCAR Cup Series debut in 2013 and was named its 2014 rookie of the year in his first full-time season. In 223 starts at NASCAR’s top level, he has scored 101 top-10 finishes and secured four playoff berths (2016-2019). His tally of 20 points-paying NASCAR national series victories includes six at the Cup level, all with Chip Ganassi Racing. In addition, he won the NASCAR All-Star Race in 2019 and most recently has dominated on dirt, winning 38 times since May while primarily racing sprint cars.

With the addition of Larson, the average age of Hendrick Motorsports’ 2021 driver lineup, which includes Chase Elliott, William Byron and Alex Bowman, will be 26 years old at the opening of next season. Combined, the four drivers have already won 18 Cup Series points races and earned 14 playoff berths.

“I’m excited about our roster of young talent,” Hendrick said. “We have a team that is built to win races and compete for championships for years to come.”


Next season will mark the return of Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 5 Chevrolet, which is currently unsponsored for 2021. The organization will no longer field the No. 88 car number it has raced in the NASCAR Cup Series since 2008.

The No. 5 was the original car number campaigned by Hendrick Motorsports when Rick Hendrick founded the team in 1984. That year, Geoff Bodine drove it to three victories, including Hendrick’s first as a Cup Series car owner on April 29, 1984, at Martinsville Speedway.

“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 racetrack 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.”

With 1,129 NASCAR Cup Series starts, the No. 5 has appeared in more races for Hendrick Motorsports than any other car. Larson will be the 10th driver to field the number for the organization and will look to be the seventh to record a Cup win behind the wheel. It was most recently driven by Kasey Kahne in 2017.

In the No. 5 Chevy for Hendrick Motorsports, Terry Labonte recorded 12 victories and won the 1996 Cup Series championship. Bodine won seven races, followed by Kahne (six), Mark Martin (five), Kyle Busch (four), and Ricky Rudd (four). The No. 5’s total of 38 wins for Hendrick Motorsports trails only its Nos. 24 and 48 teams, which have 94 and 83 victories, respectively.


  1. bill michael says

    good to see this ,a great driver who will do well congatulations kyle good luck

  2. This is great stuff. Congrats Kyle and welcome back to the NASCAR Cup Series. Chase Elliott is my guy but since I was a big Geoff Bodine fan and he drove the 5 you are my #2 guy now. Good luck kid and great to see the 5 car back in cup.

  3. I think I just heard a collective sigh of relief from all the dirt guys he raced against this past year. Great to see the 5 back
    Be interesting to see how the rest of the cup guys without rides make out now.

  4. I told everybody that he be back next year as this all hit the fan earlier this year he made a mistake kid got way too much talent to be sitting on the sidelines it’s good to see the number five back on the track we figured this was coming Bowman got moved to the 48 figured be no more 88 and bring the good old number five back

  5. Great, now go find a sponsor. That’s where the real work begins. I still don’t see how a company slaps their name on the 5 in this environment.

    Is Mike Wallace reinstated too now? Talk about a double standard.

  6. I hope Dale Earnhart Jr. gets the #88 number and fields a Cup Car to go along with Xfininty teams… Good luck to Kyle, glad he’s getting a second chance .

  7. Good news. I hope Hendrick has the engine shop working overtime this winter to find some more horsepower.

    In other news, the Boston Marathon will be delayed in 2021 to the fall, at the earliest, depending on the status of the #TrumpPandemic.

    Any schedules you see for 2021 are very fluid.

  8. I think with the Hendricks motorsports name I think they’ll get a sponsor

  9. Great to hear. A slip of the tongue shouldn’t ruin someone’s career, and from what I’ve read Kyle has really stepped up, not only completing the requirements by NASCAR, but going well beyond. He says this whole experience has made him a better person. As far as sponsors, Mr H. has a great promotional team, and there’s always Hendricks own ventures, which have appeared on cars throughout the years. I think he’ll be fine. As far as Dale Jr Fielding a cup car, he’s said numerous times it’s something he wouldn’t do, but maybe a Hendricks car with Jr listed as owner for a limited schedule might be a possibility.

  10. Hate to be the downer, but it must be said. Dareal might back me on this.
    Covid cases are in the rise, this 3rd wave is exponentially the worst yet. Over 40 states, including Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire are seeing a large rise in not only cases, but hospitalization as well, death will follow in a few weeks.
    Please, please do the right things. Wear a mask, it’s scientifically proven they help immensely. Wash your hands and use sanitizer often. Wipe down surfaces commonly used. Don’t gather in groups larger than 10. If you can, stay home. When not at home limit travel, and social interactions. And if you feel sick stay home and get tested. If offered in your area, get tested, and if your positive, or have had contact with someone positive, don’t pull a Pence.
    This virus is deadly, and is spreading faster than it ever has, records are being broken on a daily basis
    It already looks like this virus is going to affect the first part of the 2021 season, but there’s still time to try and slow it back down. It’s a task that is going to take everyone working together to accomplish. Donald Trump says Covid has been defeated. He says it’s only a problem in Democratic run states.
    I can tell you, this virus is an equal opportunity killer. We are not Democrats, we are not Republicans, WE ARE AMERICANS, and if we all band together as Americans and fight this as a United front, we will win.
    Hope everyone is safe strong sane and ready to unite against this. How many more need to die?

  11. Viva race fan says

    Super Stoked . Kyle is a beast and now has better equiptmemt to show his skills. A +++++

  12. To follow up after Rob p.

    Of the top 20 states with the highest cases per capita, 18 are red states. And of the highest 30 states, 26 are red states. Like I said a couple months ago, the pandemic is doing the slow grind through the low density population regions.

    The virus has been spreading slowly for months, and is now like a covering of smoldering coals in search of more fuel. The idiots that refuse to wear masks, distance, etc. are making like gasoline and throwing themselves on these glowing coals.

    What I find absolutely stunning is that states are promoting travel and vacations. I just saw ads from South Dakota. You have to be totally dumb and nuts to go to South Dakota now. Even the Federal Government is promoting travel. Pure stupid.

    I get frequent emails and snail mail from my local car dealer trying to get me to service my cars. The stats for my car usage is as follows:

    Since late Oct 2019, the black car has been run 4,913 miles and the blue car has collected a whopping 3,291 miles. Since early March 2020, the blue car has run 886 miles, and 3,019 for the black car. I think the average is usually about 10-12K miles per year per car.

    I also get frequent emails from my gasoline supplier trying to get me refuel numerous times per month.

    The warnings are up already for the holiday season. Canada is warning it is dangerous, they are seeing outbreaks because of holiday travel. Their holidays started about 2 weeks ago, they are seeing spikes as a result. People are going to travel, gather and spread and catch the virus. 🦠 It’s gonna be a brutal winter. The stats are already rising very fast.

    Wear a mask, wash hands often, keep your distance.

    The USA has averaged 70,000 new cases per day for the last week. Remember when 24,000 cases per week over several weeks was considered a huge number? Good times.

  13. Hendrick Engines and ECR are joining forces in the development side, so both teams are likely to have more horsepower next season. Silly season has Wallace and Suarez going to newly developed teams, jones driving the #43. Briscoe moving into the #14 cup ride, which is a great move, the kid has a natural talent. No word on Ty Dillon, who I thought might wind up in the 43 because of the coordination with RCR.
    The guy I feel sorry for is Dibennidetto. In his first year with the Wood Brothers he makes the playoffs, then finds out his 4 year deal has been cut to 2, as Austin Cindric will drive the 21 in 22. Lajoie still hasn’t found a team, or has, but not announced it yet

  14. Bill Realist says

    +10 virtue points to rob p

  15. “If things don’t change,if they continue on the course we’re on there’s going to be a while lot of pain in this country with regards to new cases, hospitalizations and deaths. We are on a very difficult trajectory. We are going in the wrong direction. We’re averaging 70,000 cases per day, and as high as 83000 last Friday and if you look and if you look at the map, there are a large number of states that are going in the wrong direction. If that continues we’re going to be in allot worse shape a month from now than we are today”
    That was Dr Anthony Fauci last night, talking to Shepard Smith.
    Believe the scientists, not the politicians

  16. Kyle Larson February 2019
    “He then added with a smile, “I feel like Hendrick just plays games in a way with NASCAR and I feel like they always start the year kind of bad to show NASCAR that they’re being nice and cooperating and following the rules and stuff and then it gets a couple months in and they start cheating & finding some speed.” He concluded with a laugh.”

    And the immediate apology
    “I want to apologize to Mr. (Rick) Hendrick and Team Hendrick for the comments I made earlier today. I feel terrible about it. I meant it jokingly, but shouldn’t have implied they are anything but a strong competitor that gets better as the season goes on. I appreciate the engine support we get from them as they are major part of the reason we have been as strong as we are.”

    The goal for 2021: Just drive and if you have to speak think very carefully first.

  17. I don’t mean to harp. But to see that idiot every day blatantly lying, telling people the virus is gone. Then to have the Republican Senators come right out and basically say screw you, knowing they are far more protected than most of us, just totally pisses me off.
    Having had nearly a dozen losses, people who didn’t have to die, and probably wouldn’t have died if our elected officials had done their jobs. I can tell you the sadness, and hurt, and especially the anger doesn’t go away. I miss these people, and it angers me that all the Republican senate was concerned about was putting another radical judge in the supreme court, rather than trying to figure out how to fight the virus. 227,000+ people taken before their time, most of whom would probably still be here if these idiots had just done their jobs.
    I said before, that before this was over we’d all know at least 1 person who died from it, now I hope I might be wrong because I don’t want any of you to feel the sadness and outrage that I feel every day. A reminder went off on my phone at 11am, it would have been one of my friends 50th birthday today.
    I truly hope your all safe strong sane and remain that way. RIP Luigi

  18. Viva race fan says

    Kyle and Donald in 2021

  19. Don’t think Kyle would sink that low.

  20. It is good to see Kyle Larson back in cup I think he learned from his mistake. He ended up shutting down his sprint car team about a week ago probably because he didnt have the nascar money to support it. It will be interesting to see if what they can find for sponsorship going forward which is what I thought may keep him out of Cup racing. I really enjoyed watching him on the dirt tracks this past summer. The kid can drive. It seemed like his win percentage was about 35% mostly in the 410 sprint cars. He jumped in a late model for a weekend and won one of the two features. It was great to watch. I am sure the dirt track racers are really happy he wont be full time at the local races. I will probably be a little more interested in Cup next year because of him.

    Now that a good portion of the Cup driver movement has been announced how does Ryan Preece look for next year. Has there been anything announced I may have missed. If I remember correctly his contract was up end of the year. I saw he lead several laps at Charlotte Roval a few weeks back and someone said he has been running better lately. I hope he is able to stay on at the Cup level. He proved he is more than capable when in good equipment as shown by his brief stint with Gibbs Xfinity run.

  21. csf, problem with Preeces situation is that all the good rides are filled. Hopefully he gets an extension to stay where he is, as most of the rides that are opening up are of equal or lesser caliber. At least now he has 2 years under him with the same organization. The question you have to ask is wether he’s ok with running in the mid 20’s all the time, with a few top 15’s here and there, or would he be better off pursuing a front running Xfinity ride, or even returning to the modifieds. NASCAR says the new next gen car is going to level the playing field, but they say that every time they introduce a new design, or rules package, yet everything seems to remain the same.

  22. 🌈🦄2020 says

    Hard to believe but this Rob p is the same guy that was on his way to Stafford last week. Just last week he was going to Stafford in the middle of a second wave of a pandemic. And Dafella, I just baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies, would you like one? Or do you prefer a ribbon/medal?

  23. Rob I wasnt really expecting Preece to land a better ride. He doesnt have a lot of sponsorship money behind him. Isnt related to any cup owners. Earlier in silly season ride swap talk, there was talk of him losing his ride with the 37/47 team. I hope that is no longer in question but I havent heard an update on his situation for next year. Personally what little cup I do watch is primarily to see how Preece is doing. He lead a bit of the race at the roval and was near the front at Talladega. He has had some good showings. I would think they should announce something before the end of season, wouldnt they?

  24. 2020, I would have been at Stafford last weekend if I hadn’t destroyed my truck, and landed me and my wife in the hospital last Wednesday night. I felt that Stafford had things under control then, and even in the general area things were going well. Monday night I got an alert on my phone warning of a sharp spike in Covid in springfield massachusetts, and the past few days things have turned real dismal. That quote from Fauci that I posted says it all. I still feel somewhat safe in my area, but I think that will be short lived, as it seems this virus is really starting to wind up. Yesterday was another record day in most states.


    Apparently there’s a charter situation floating around out there as well.
    Preece did all he could. He is finishing the season very strong and making any possible decision to cut him loose, if that’s the case, all the harder to make.
    I don’t agree that the JTG Daugherty ride is settling for leftovers in any regard. It is a team as we’ve seen that can produce very good finishes on occasion. Being in the bigs in any sport is an honor. Ryan is there, has status, makes good money, benefits and it’s the highest level of stock car racing.

  26. I agree with you Doug. A few years ago Ryan forced his own destiny when he hooked up with Gibbs in the Xfinity series. He laid it all on the line, and ultimately wound up with a cup ride. Personally, I divide the cup field into 4 tiers. JTG falls in that second tier. Hopefully things will work out to allow Ryan to stay in that ride at least another year, as it seems the more he races the better his finishes, and if he could just stay with the same team intact for a few years, you might see him racing in the top 10-15 regularly.

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