Kyle Larson Emulates Jimmie Johnson’s Crazy Record at Phoenix

Published 11/08/2021, 6:42 AM EST
BRISTOL, TENNESSEE – SEPTEMBER 18: Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 Valvoline Chevrolet, walks on stage during pre-race ceremonies prior to the NASCAR Cup Series Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on September 18, 2021 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)


Kyle Larson capped off his dominant season by lifting the NASCAR Cup Series trophy in Phoenix. And not only did he win the title, but he also won it by doing what he has done more than anyone this season – winning the race.

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But this victory is special for many reasons. Yes, it won him the NASCAR Cup Series title, but this win, his 10th of the season, meant he equaled Jimmie Johnson’s tally for the 2007 season.

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Johnson had also won the championship in that season with the same team, Hendrick Motorsports, with which Kyle Larson has won. In fact, Johnson had won all seven of his Cup titles in Hendrick colours.

HOMESTEAD, FL – NOVEMBER 20: Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, poses for a portrait after winning the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)

Kyle Larson gets approval from his hero

Getting congratulatory messages from former professionals and colleagues isn’t an unknown phenomenon for a champion. Kyle Larson was no exception, either.

But how about being called the best race car driver by your hero?

Larson, who was in tears after winning the race, reacted to Stewart’s words of praise for him.  

“If I really had a true racing hero, I would say it’s Tony Stewart. I’ve always believed him to be the best racecar driver ever. I try to model my racing and my schedule off what I feel like Tony Stewart would do, so this makes me feel really good,” Larson said after the race as reported in KSAT.

May 30, 2021; Concord, North Carolina, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Larson (5) talks with team owner Rick Hendrick on his winning the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Even team owner Rick Hendrick, a man who has seen this many times before, had some big words for Kyle Larson.

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“I know how good he is, I’m just fortunate we were able to get him, and man, what a wheelman he is.”

When Kyle Larson was announced as the replacement for a departing Jimmie Johnson in 2020, many were sceptical about whether the young driver would be able to fill in Johnson’s shoes, let alone emulate his legacy.

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But with his first title, Kyle Larson has not only proved his talent but confirmed that he is well underway on Johnson’s path of success.

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Shaharyar

177 articles

Shaharyar is a Formula 1 & NASCAR writer at EssentiallySports. A Graduate in Journalism from Amity University, he has been a passionate follower of motorsports for the better part of the decade. A Max Verstappen and Ferrari supporter, he dreams of a pairing of the two in the future.

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