Kyle Larson Wins 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Championship On NBC and Peacock

AVONDALE, Ariz. – Nov. 7, 2021 – Kyle Larson won the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Championship this afternoon on NBC and Peacock, his first career Cup Series title, as he outdueled fellow Championship 4 contenders Martin Truex Jr. (2nd), Denny Hamlin (3rd), and Chase Elliott (5th) at Phoenix Raceway in Avondale, Ariz.

RACE RESULTS
Position Driver Car #
1 Kyle Larson 5
2 Martin Truex Jr. 19
3 Denny Hamlin 11
4 Ryan Blaney 12
5 Chase Elliott 9

NBC Sports’ lead NASCAR race announcer Rick Allen called the Championship race live from Phoenix Raceway alongside Daytona 500-winning crew chief Steve Letarte, 21-time Cup Series race winner and “The Mayor” of NASCAR Jeff Burton, and two-time Daytona 500 champion and NASCAR Hall of Fame selection Dale Earnhardt JrMarty SniderDave BurnsKelli Stavast, and Parker Kligerman provided reports from pit road.

NBC Sports’ 90 minutes of Countdown to Green pre-race coverage began at 1:30 p.m. ET, and took place from three locations around the track:

  • Peacock Pit Box: Marty Snider with NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Dale Jarrett and Brad Daugherty
  • Rattlesnake Hill: Kelli Stavast alongside auto racing icon Kyle Petty and Steve Letarte
  • Front of the Grid: Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Burton

Pre-race coverage on NBC and Peacock included:

  • Live interviews with the Championship 4 contenders:
    • 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion Chase Elliott on the Peacock Pit Box
    • 2021 NASCAR regular-season champion Kyle Larson from the front of the grid
    • Three-time Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin from the front of the grid
    • 2017 NASCAR Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr. on the Peacock Pit Box

The following are highlights from this afternoon’s NASCAR Cup Series Championship race coverage on NBC and Peacock:

POST-RACE COVERAGE

Larson in post-race interview to Rutledge Wood: “There were so many points in this race where I didn’t think we were going to win, that without my pit crew on that last stop, I wouldn’t be standing here. They’re the true champions and winners.”

Burton on Larson: “This guy could be considered the best driver in the world. There’s no one I know who can do what he does. It’s absolutely incredible.”

Earnhardt Jr. on Larson: “You talk about how much of a team sport this is, we celebrate and spotlight the drivers, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a championship won by the entire crew.”

Burton: “Kyle Larson executed when his pit crew put him in position. The No. 5 pit crew has been the best pit crew all year long, he’s the been best driver all year long…this is his first championship, it won’t be the last. He is a rare talent.”

Jarrett: “He is one of the best drivers we have ever witnessed. Jeff Burton said he might be the best driver in the world right now and I believe that.”

Daugherty: “It’s about the maturation of Kyle Larson. You think back to this time last year and him sitting at Hendrick Motorsports watching this race on television. He thought it was just like sand through the hourglass, he thought it was gone and he thought he’d never get a second chance…he’s taken it, he’s made the most of it and he’s been so impactful to his community.”

Letarte: “They didn’t dominate here. They perhaps didn’t have the best car at times. But in the end, they had the best team when it mattered the most. A pit stop gave their superstar driver a chance to showcase his talent and it was an impressive run.”

Allen: “Every single vehicle he gets behind the wheel of, he has won the biggest races. And today he wins the biggest in NASCAR.”

Letarte: “What people don’t see are the 6 a.m. mornings in the gym, or the 6 a.m. morning pit practices. There is a tremendous amount of effort that went into that moment – those 11 seconds – that changed the course for this No. 5 car.”

Earnhardt Jr. on Phoenix Raceway and the state of NASCAR: “They did a big renovation of this race track and it is made for this moment. The stadium feel and vibe that it has, the experience that it gives the fans, we had an amazing race and it was everything we hoped it would be. It was a big day for the sport. This is a critical moment. We put a lot of pressure on our sport this season to deliver and it did. I hate to go into the offseason and wait for the next year because I’m so excited for the future of this sport.”

Burton: “I’ve been to Super Bowls, Final Fours and this exceeded that feeling because the fans and energy were right there…the race delivered. Every one of the drivers and teams of the Championship 4 brought all they had today.”

Earnhardt Jr.: “I look at the drivers going through the system that we have today and the highs are higher and the lows are lower. When you lose on a race like today, it’s much more difficult to take after all of the effort that you’ve put in vs. how we might have done things a couple of decades ago. It’s difficult, in this moment, to think that I have to come back and try this again with the potential of being disappointed again…I couldn’t imagine having to go through that. I admire what our competitors have to put themselves through.”

Burton: “Everyone wants to be Kyle Larson right now. What they don’t realize is all of the work and sacrifice and dedication and heartache that goes into today. This is a very difficult sport. All of the years that Kyle Larson has raced, he has very few championships. These things are hard to come by.”

Letarte: “A season’s worth of work translates into a multiplier for the dejection. It stings enough when you come close to winning a race, but you tell yourself that you can come back next week. But this is, ‘I’ve got to come back next year.’ Twelve months from now, if you’re fortunate to make this Championship 4. So many things have to go your way, not just your performance.”

RACE COVERAGE

Rick Allen: “Kyle Larson, a year ago watched the race from North Carolina. Today, he is a Cup Series champion!”

Letarte on Kyle Larson’s pit stop with 25 laps to go: “Move of the race so far…fourth to first…he went from being last of the Championship drivers to now controlling the race.”

Burton on Larson: “His pit crew delivered the second fastest stop of the year in the key moment to get him in this position.”

Burton on success of Hendrick Motorsports this season: “A few years ago we were saying, ‘What’s wrong with Hendrick (Motorsports)?’ We were so used to seeing this team dominate and win championships. They were not anywhere near it and now that has completely shifted. They now are the Hendrick we used to know – they lead races, win races and win championships.”

PRE-RACE COVERAGE

Burton on Kyle Larson: “What’s he done over the past 24 months has been absolutely incredible. Everything he sits in, he wins in…he is in a position where the only guy I can compare him to is Mario Andretti. If he can continue this throughout his career, he will go down as one of the best drivers ever in the history of motorsports.”

Daugherty on Kyle Larson’s championship aspirations: “He is the most versatile racecar driver we may have ever seen…he is unbeatable at times.”

Burton on winning the Championship: “Having a chance to win this is special. I never won one, and I can tell you, I have few regrets in my life, but not having one of these, is one of my biggest regrets.”

Daugherty on contenders to win the season-finale: “Outside of a superspeedway Championship-wise, I think this is the deepest field of contenders that can possibly win this race outright that maybe we’ve ever seen.”

“There were so many points in this race where I didn’t think we were going to win, that without my pit crew on that last stop, I wouldn’t be standing here. They’re the true champions and winners.” – Kyle Larson

“This guy could be considered the best driver in the world. There’s no one I know who can do what he does…the only guy I can compare him to is Mario Andretti.” – Jeff Burton on Larson

“You talk about how much of a team sport this is, we celebrate and spotlight the drivers, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a championship won by the entire crew.” – Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the No. 5 Team and final pit stop that led to victory

“A few years ago we were saying, ‘What’s wrong with Hendrick (Motorsports)?’ They now are the Hendrick we used to know – they lead races, win races and win championships.” – Burton

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