• Fri. Jun 2nd, 2023

Countdown to the Clash: Kyle Larson striving for Championship 4 return

ByEvan McNelia

Feb 2, 2023
Kyle Larson looks on

Photo courtesy of Jared East | Getty Images

One season after winning the NASCAR Championship, Kyle Larson missed the Championship 4 in 2022. This season, in 2023, he enters his 10th full-time Cup Series season and will be looking to get his No. 5 back into Championship contention. 

The first year in the Next Gen Car was a bit of an up-and-down year for Larson. After finishing 2021 with only two DNFs, he collected seven last year. He collected a whopping 10 wins in his championship-winning 2021 season but he only found Victory Lane three times last season. Though, winning multiple races in a season that featured a record 19 different winners remains an impressive feat.

Larson, a native of Elk Grove, California, won his first race in 2022 in the Next Gen Car at his home track Auto Club Motor Speedway, early in the season. It took him until Watkins Glen International in late August before he won his next race. 

Larson was eliminated following the Round of 12 at the Bank of America Roval 400 elimination race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The following week he was involved in an incident with Bubba Wallace at Las Vegas as he wrecked out. He followed up the rough couple of weeks with three straight top-10 finishes to close out the season.

He won the week after Vegas at the Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead-Miami, using the frustrations of the previous two weeks to guide him to Victory Lane for a third time in 2022. He finished second at Martinsville and ninth at Phoenix closing out the season.

Though 2023 is Larson’s 10th full-time season, he did miss all but four races in 2020 after being fired from his team and being suspended by NASCAR for using a racial slur on a Twitch Stream.

In his 295 career races, Larson has 146 top-10 finishes, 89 top-five finishes and 19 wins. He has 14 career poles and has made the playoffs in six seasons. Entering 2023 he is just a handful of solid performances from a lot of milestone marks. He will need them either way if he wants to get back to the Championship 4 and race for a shot at his second title.

At the inaugural 2022 Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum, Larson placed fifth in the main race after coming in second in his qualifying heat race behind Joey Logano. He’ll be looking to start his 2023 run just as hot, possibly finding his first Clash victory as he works back toward the Championship 4.