Wed, 25 Nov 2020

Larson to drive No. 5 car for Hendrick Motorsports

Field Level Media
29 Oct 2020, 04:40 GMT+10

Kyle Larson will drive the historic No. 5 car for Hendrick Motorsports in the NASCAR Cup Series next season.

The team's announcement Wednesday comes just nine days after NASCAR said Larson would be reinstated from suspension on Jan. 1. He was disciplined by the governing body and fired by Chip Ganassi Racing after he uttered a racial slur during an iRacing video game event on April 12.

He completed NASCAR-mandated sensitivity training and has discussed recently how much he has learned and grown during his suspension.

Hendrick Motorsports signed him to a multi-year contract, and team owner Rick Hendrick said in a statement Wednesday that he trusts the driver on and off the track.

"Kyle is unquestionably one of the most talented race car drivers in the world," Hendrick said. "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, has won more than 250 events across a variety of sanctioning bodies and vehicle styles. With Hendrick, he will team with crew chief Cliff Daniels, who currently leads the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team with seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson.

Johnson is retiring from NASCAR competition and will race part-time in the IndyCar Series for Ganassi next year.

Larson and Daniels will be in charge of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, which Hendrick Motorsports will race for the first time since 2017. Hendrick no longer will run the No. 88 car.

The No. 5 car was the first for Hendrick Motorsports, which was founded in 1984. Geoff Bodine drive it to its first three win, and it hasn't been driven since Kasey Kahne piloted it in 2017. The No. 5 has produced 38 wins.

Larson said he was grateful for the opportunity Hendrick has given him.

"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," he said.

"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, who is part Japanese, graduated to NASCAR through a program called "Drive for Diversity." His grandparents spent time in an internment camp in California in World War II.

Larson was in his seventh season on the NASCAR circuit at the time of his suspension. He has six career Cup wins and was sixth in the final standings in 2019.

--Field Level Media

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