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Kyle Larson Champion’s Press Conference Transcript

NASCAR Media Conference

Press Conference

Sunday, November 7, 2021

An Interview with: Kyle Larson

THE MODERATOR: We now welcome the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion, Kyle Larson. Kyle, congratulations on an outstanding season, 10 wins, record-setting lap leading charge from the 5 team. Please give us a quick overview of your night and an incredible season.

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, it was a little bit of an up-and-down race compared to the four of us. There was moments where I was like, maybe I’ve got a good enough car to win outright and there was times where I was definitely the fourth best car.

Definitely a team win. I’m honestly glad that it took our whole — I mean, it always takes your whole team, but in one race, Cliff, the engineers making the adjustments on the car to keep us in the game, my pit crew is the main reason why we won that race, and I’m sure somewhere in there I made some good decisions, too.

Just happy that we had to earn this one and worked our butts off to get it done.

When you think about some of the things you’ve done this year, not just in the Cup Series but within all different disciplines, your 10 wins here in the Cup Series but also your success on the dirt tracks throughout the year, can you think of a year throughout your entire racing life where you’ve had a year where you’ve done so many different things and dominated throughout all kinds of different disciplines?

KYLE LARSON: Well, I only got to run four Cup races last year, but last year I was able to win 46 races. These last two seasons are ones that I’m very proud of, and I hope I can replicate it as years go on.

I wasn’t sure if I’d ever top what I was able to accomplish last year winning 46 times and about 50 percent of my races. This year I haven’t won as many races, but I’ve got more, a lot more big wins.

What I’m proud about, too, this year, there’s a lot I’m proud about, but this year I raced so many different types of cars. I was able to win a marquee event in each of the cars that I raced, the Chili Bowl and the BC39 in midget, Kings Royal, Knoxville Nationals in a sprint car, the Prairie Dirt Classic in a dirt late model, and a handful of big wins in the Cup Series. And to top it off with a Cup Series championship.

I don’t think that I’ll ever be able to top this year, but I hope I can someday.

Speaking on just this, the money stop and your crew, you mentioned there were times where you felt like you had the fourth best car. Did you ever think that you were always in it just because your pit crew was so good and the guys and the girls at the shop?

KYLE LARSON: Yep. Yeah, I always felt like, no matter how bad I felt like our car was at times, as long as I could stay with them, the other drivers in front of me, with our pit stall selection and my pit crew, I knew that we were going to be in it.

For us to come in fourth behind them and come out the leader was a little bit better than I thought we could do. But my pit crew, I’ve got all the belief in the world in them. They proved all season long that they were consistent and consistently fast.

We have such a great team, and they’re a massive part of it, and they’re the reason why we won tonight.

You mentioned just now finding it hard to imagine being able to top this year; what’s the next goal for you? What do you want to accomplish next?

KYLE LARSON: I don’t know. I just got done winning the Cup Series championship, which is a dream come true.

I don’t know. I mean, thankfully I’m young, I’m still in my 20s, and who knows. Who knows what’s out there, what other opportunities I might get, what other big races or something I could run.

I’m up for anything.

Just very fortunate to have all the opportunities I’ve ever been given, and it’s hard to think about what else I would like to accomplish, but I love winning races, and I love driving all sorts of vehicles.

I’ve watched you take your kids all over the world, and to have that moment when you took Owen for the victory lap, what was that like for you, and was there anything special that the two of you shared?

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, that was really cool. I think it was Kevin Harvick maybe took Keelan, I can’t remember what race a few years ago, and I wasn’t winning a lot then, but okay — I wasn’t winning a lot then, but man, that was such a cool moment to share with your son.

I didn’t even have the idea to do it today. I think it was somebody from NASCAR asked if I’d like to take Owen for a ride to Victory Lane, and I was like, yeah, for sure. I was like, it’s really hot so he’s going to have to be careful in here. But he was so excited. I could see it in his face. He was holding the checkered flag. He’s gotten to do a lot of wing dances with me in a sprint car, but not too many Cup wins.

It was super cool to celebrate with him, my whole family, Owen, Audrey, Katelynn, my mom and dad were here, my sister. I don’t know when the last time she’s been to one of my races. So many of my friends were here. Paul Silva was here today. Hayden, our mechanic on the sprint car, Tommy Tarlton and his wife were here. There were so many people here to support me, that have supported me for years now, so it made this win feel even greater.

I know I might have gotten you in the intro when you said the biggest win was the Chili Bowl, but certainly this has to trump that victory?

KYLE LARSON: Definitely. Yeah, this year I’ve won so many big races, and it seems like each one I win, okay, that was my biggest win. Then you win another one, that was my biggest win. I don’t know if there’s another race that could ever top this win here today, winning the Cup Series race at Phoenix for a championship. It doesn’t get any bigger.

Kyle, in the car as you were going around with the big flag and stuff, you had tears in your eyes, you couldn’t really talk over the radio real well. What was that emotion going through you right at that time? What was the things that you were thinking of and knowing that this championship was a reality?

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I don’t know. I mean, you guys might not see it, but I tear up quite a bit. Whenever I win races, that mean a lot to me. Usually you’ll get myself composed before interviews and before I take my helmet off. Today you guys got to see it because I’m taking the checkered flag and I’ve got a camera straight in front of me, so you could see the emotion that I have for a lot of the wins I get.

But today was more tears than normal, I think, just because of the significance of the event, of the journey that it took to get here, and just — I think just everything, the atmosphere of the race, all the friends and family I had here today, my crew and the hard work that they put in all year.

I felt just a big relief that I was able to win for them and get to enjoy it with them. It all — well, a little bit of it was hitting me before the race started, and then it all kind of hit me there after the checkered.

I saw you had Anthony and Michelle Martin here today; what did it mean to have them here? Did you get a chance to talk to them after the race? What kind of role did they play in your comeback this season?

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, it was so great to have them here. I think it worked out perfect with their schedule. I believe they were at the SEMA show or something earlier this week or last week and was able to come here.

Yeah, they were a big part of my comeback last year, I guess, and just talking with them and building a closer friendship. They’ve got a really tight relationship with Chevrolet and Jim Campbell. Anthony all of last year before I was ever even close to making a return to NASCAR was always in Jim Campbell’s ear about me.

It makes me feel really special that they were here today and got to enjoy all the festivities, taking pictures with our team next to the championship trophy. They were definitely a big part of — they are a big part of my life now, and I’m glad they were here to share it.

What was it like getting the championship ring from Jim France?

KYLE LARSON: That was cool. That was really cool. We were just at the barn before I came in here, and that place is rocking right now. Yeah, that was neat to get the championship ring presented to me.

I didn’t know that was something that happened right after the race. I thought that was something you got presented time during the week of the banquet. Really cool to go there and see a lot of the folks from NASCAR and get to share a cocktail here with them and get presented an awesome shiny ring.

What are you drinking?

KYLE LARSON: My go-to is Captain Morgan and Diet Coke. I’m pacing myself. This is my first one. You guys are probably bummed because I’m not like Ben Rhodes right now, but I was watching that Friday night and I was like, okay, if I win, I’m not going to be like him.

No, that was cool to see him enjoying it.

I really haven’t had time to like slam a bunch of drinks like he did. I don’t know really how he did that.

I told her (Katelynn) before I came here. I was like, You need to start drinking some water because you’re going to be in rough shape here soon. I’ve been around her for like 10 minutes, and I’ve seen her shotgun three or four different beers. She never drinks, by the way. She’s got this reputation like she’s the partier and this and that because she shotguns a beer, but she never parties. I hope she can pace herself tonight.

She said on TV she had had five or six?

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, because she’d been drinking all day during the race. Like I said, we have a lot of friends here. So they were in the hospitality tent right here, and yeah, like she better sober up. But I did come here and somebody was handing her water, so hopefully she can drink that for a little bit.

But you were up on stage at the barn, and they were chanting her name louder than they were chanting your name. Then she comes up on stage and shotguns a beer. What’s going through your head?

KYLE LARSON: She can have it. She can have all the eyes on her. I don’t know, NASCAR fans, they love drinking. I can’t drink beer. You’ll never see me shotgun anything. Yeah, they definitely have that connection with her, and that’s cool. I drink the hard liquor, though, so I really have to watch my pace.

When we were talking to Katelynn, she said that the Chili Bowl was something that was a childhood dream that was achievable for you, but maybe a Cup champion was something that you never thought was achievable. I wanted to ask you, did you ever think that you would ever be sitting in this position?

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, so I don’t really think that I ever like — don’t try and spin this in the wrong way, because like I don’t know if I ever dreamt of winning the Cup Series championship because I feel like it’s outside of, like, realistic things.

I feel like I dream about stuff that I know I can go do. I’m not sure I ever really thought that I could win a Cup Series championship. I’ve always thought about winning races, not championships. I didn’t know if I would ever win a Cup Series championship.

I can’t say that it was like a dream of mine.

Like I said, don’t take that the wrong way because that’s not what I’m trying to make it sound like. It’s just it’s so far out there that I never thought that I would do it.

Until I got with this team, for sure. Early on in the year I felt like we could do it, but then you kind of think about how the format is and all that, you’re like, well, something is going to happen where I don’t win this championship.

Maybe that’s what kept it out of my dreams a little bit, too, of all the circumstances that go into winning a championship in the Cup Series.

Like any other form of racing, it’s like a year-long thing. You can work your way towards winning a championship with this format, it’s just crazy. I think that’s kind of what’s kept it from me like dreaming about these moments and how I would see it being like.

You won in Nashville, the banquet is going to be in Nashville, and I know you’ve spent a lot of time there and talked fondly about it. How excited are you to celebrate your first championship in Nashville?

KYLE LARSON: I am extremely to go to Nashville. I love Nashville. We’re really close friends with the Bowyers, and through Clint and Laura we’ve been able to meet a lot of their friends, and Trace is who we’ve met recently in Sonoma, got to build a close friendship with. He knows a lot of big-name musicians and stuff, so I’m hoping he can pull some strings and we can get a massive party going in Nashville.

We FaceTimed them on the way to the barn and it was hard to hear, but I told him he’d better be scouting some good entertainers for us.

I’m really looking forward to Nashville. It’s one of the most fun cities you can possibly go to. Definitely not a better spot for the banquet.

Plenty of liquor, too.

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, plenty. I’m sure I’ll find some trouble. No, I look forward to it.

On that second to last caution you were forced to restart sixth after losing a spot on pit road there and Truex and Blaney staying out. How much differently did your car handle the dirty air at that time as opposed to the first short stint of the race when you were coming back through traffic?

KYLE LARSON: Well, I don’t think the dirty air affected it necessarily too much. Towards the end of that longer run, that led into that caution, I started — so the two runs before that I felt like we finally hit on our balance some and I could apply the throttle like I needed to on exit. Built too tight, so then I think we probably started freeing back up again.

Then I don’t know if the track went through a shift or if our car just was looser, but then I started getting loose, loose on exit, and that whole run when I restarted sixth and got back to fourth there, I was just too free off to apply the throttle like I needed to.

But you go out in clean air after we had the pit stop I still had a sort of similar balance to that, but maybe Martin’s balance wasn’t quite as good in that short little run.

Yeah, clean air or just track position really is important.

What is your relationship with your pit crew like? Obviously you gave them a lot of credit for getting you first out on that last restart and obviously they did a great job for you there, but what is your relationship with them like?

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, so our team I feel like is really tight. I think Cliff does a good job of — before when I was at Ganassi, I was never a part of like the pre-team kind of meetings and stuff with the pit crew and all that, and I love being a part of that and seeing and kind of going over the race strategy with everybody, and seeing them at the shop — I go to the shop more often a little bit and get to see their prep that goes into stuff.

Yeah, it’s just he does a great job leading this team and keeping us all close. It’s easy a lot of times for the driver I feel like to be distant from everybody, just the way that schedules are and all that, but I feel like I’m closer to my team than I’ve ever been with any other team.

Just really proud of all of them. Really proud about how consistent they were throughout the whole season, and for them to come in clutch like that on the final pit stop of the year makes me feel good. So I owe them something very big for sure.

18 months ago did you see yourself ever being able to experience this moment?

KYLE LARSON: No, I didn’t — 18 months ago I didn’t think that I was ever going to be in a Cup car again. Strapping in for the Daytona 500 didn’t even seem real, let alone winning the championship.

No, it’s definitely been a journey, a roller coaster. But I’m very thankful for my second chance and every opportunity I’ve been given in these last 18 months.

Life is a crazy thing, and you’ve just got to stay positive through it all, and everything will hopefully work out for you.

Talking about those 18 months, they were what they were, but going all the way back to when you got your start in NASCAR specifically and in stock cars, back to the K&N days and to Ganassi and it kind of comes full circle now, you winning your title on his last day as a car owner, how has your relationship with stock cars specifically and NASCAR specifically evolved and changed over the last few years?

KYLE LARSON: Well, yeah, it was so nice to see Chip today. He is the sole reason why I’m here today. I mean, there’s so many — there’s been a lot of people. Rick has obviously been a big part of this, too.

I met with every team owner back in 2011, and Chip Ganassi was the only guy, the only team owner to even entertain me racing this car. I met with him for probably 20 minutes, and he signed me up right then after.

I owe the world to him. It was nice to see him today and see how happy and at peace I felt like he was with it, with his final event as a team owner.

Very thankful for all the years that I spent at Chip Ganassi Racing. I still work out there with Josh Wise, so it’s nice to see all the familiar faces and a lot of the people from the 42 car, they came by to congratulate me tonight, so it made me feel really good.

It makes me feel really good inside. A little bit bittersweet honestly that I was able to win in Chip’s last event as a car owner.

A couple minutes ago Tony Stewart tweeted, Congratulations to the best race car driver I’ve ever seen. Instant reaction and what does it mean to you to hear that comment coming from him?

KYLE LARSON: Today has been really cool. To now hear you say that, and I did an interview with NBC before the race started, Mario Andretti, to hear him talk about his thoughts on me. And now Tony Stewart, probably the one driver if I had to pick, if I really had a true racing hero, I would say it’s Tony Stewart, who I’ve always believed to be the best race car driver ever.

That means a lot to me. Yeah, it’s just — I try to model my racing and my schedule off what I feel like Tony Stewart would do, so that makes me feel really good.

First off, Cliff was in here and he mentioned a few times he felt like the weak link on this team sometimes, and that seems odd. Did you know that at any point during the year, that he was putting so much pressure on himself? He also mentioned that he hasn’t slept basically all year.

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, so I didn’t realize that like he doesn’t sleep the night before a race. I was just like joking with him earlier, like, Man, how did you sleep last night? And he’s like, I didn’t. I was like, Man, really? I slept like a baby last night.

Yeah, that’s odd to hear him say that he felt like the weak link, which I don’t feel like we have any weak links on our team at all, which I think we proved that tonight because it took a whole team effort to win that race.

We joke with Cliff a lot that when we don’t win, he’s sad and he’s mopey and all this and that. It doesn’t surprise me, though, I guess that he thought he was a weak link just because he holds everybody to a high standard, but apparently himself, too.

I think you need that, though. You need to have that drive in each and every one of you to want to be better each and every day.

He’s an amazing crew chief, amazing team leader, and I am extremely fortunate to be with this race team.

I think Jimmie Johnson is a big credit to it, as well. I think his leadership skills, as well, has molded Cliff into the person he is and the crew chief he is today as well as all the team members on this 5 car.

I’m sure you’ll look at the numbers eventually, but 10 wins, all the laps led, to come back, have the year that you had, you said it, you didn’t realistically think of this as — you didn’t think of this as something that was realistic. Did this feel impossible, to not only come back but to have the year that you had?

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I mean, I don’t know what to think about it really. Yeah, it’s just wild. Like I didn’t know that we would have a season like this. I thought — with Chase winning last year, I knew we would be strong, but I didn’t think that we would ever win double-digit races in the Cup Series. This isn’t anything that I thought I would ever do in the Cup Series, double-digit wins and winning the championship, winning half the playoff races.

I thought when Tony Stewart won half of the playoff races in the year that he won the championship, I was like, that’ll never be done again.

For me to match him on that, the laps led, the wins, the top 5s and stuff, and all the wins outside of Cup racing, I never thought racing for Hendrick Motorsports that I would get to race a single dirt race in a year, let alone as many as I have this year. It’s definitely an unbelievable season on so many different levels.

  1. You said you met with every team back in 2011. What do you remember about meeting with Hendrick Motorsports back then?

KYLE LARSON: I joke with Jeff about this. He’ll probably be upset that I said this. But it might have been one of the first times I met Jeff Gordon. Yeah, I was like star struck a little bit to be at Hendrick Motorsports and getting to be there with Jeff. I remember him showing me around the shop.

I remember turning the corner, we were going to his office and I turned the corner and his super model wife was standing there, and she’s like seven-foot tall and beautiful, and I was like, oh, my God, this is crazy. Then we sat down in his office, and Jeff Gordon is such an awesome race car driver and one I’ve looked up to since I was a little toddler.

I remember being so disappointed when I left there because everybody knows I love dirt racing, and he’s like, You really need to get out of dirt cars. They’re going to teach you bad habits, and this and that, and I was like, Man, that was a terrible time there at Hendrick, after I left.

I think I went from Hendrick to Ganassi probably right after that, and I was not feeling like too pumped up about the day. Really think I was there for three days and met with every team and just being disappointed every time I left the race shop because it’s like they’re just going through the motions, nice to meet you, you’ve got a cool resume, yeah, we need a few hundred thousand dollars for you to race our car next year. Like I don’t have anybody to bring money to. Then when I met with Chip, I was feeling on top of the world.

Yes, I joke with Jeff about my trip to Hendrick that day, and he tells me about kind of the behind-the-scenes conversations he had with Rick after that. They had I think Chase, kind of already worked on signing him up at that point when I met with them. It all worked out in the end. I got to get experience and they didn’t have to pay for any of it before I got to them. So it worked out.

When you look back at this moment per se when you’re on the rocker 30 or 40 years from now in the future, what is one thing you’ll remember the most about this night?

KYLE LARSON: This night? That pit stop. Yeah, I think definitely — I think the pit stop will come first to my mind. But the hard work that it took throughout that whole race — in the beginning, like I said, our car was so far from being capable of winning the race, and they did a great job of getting our balance within the range to where I felt like maybe we could go race for the win.

Then my pit crew, yeah.

Yeah, probably just the team effort that it took to win.

Cliff came in here and he spoke about the opportunity that he took to join you with a lot of the sprint car, midget and late model races this season. Can you tell me a little bit about how that benefitted you guys’ relationship, the lack of practice and qualifying this year, and just how you guys were able to learn each other’s languages?

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I don’t know. I feel like I’m really easy to work with. Mostly because I don’t know anything about a race car. But I think it was just good to get him there.

He came on his own behalf. It was just nice for me to see that he cared about all the racing that I do and wanted to learn about it, wanted to talk to the crew chiefs, pick their brain about how I communicate and stuff.

I think that really kind of kick-started the relationship a little bit.

Like I said, I’m really easy to work with. I feel like he’s really easy to work with. I feel like we’re a great — we have great chemistry because he is so good at communicating and so good at painting a picture, and I like to process all that information to understand the flow of the race and stuff.

Yes, it was nice that he came to a lot of my dirt races, and he’ll pick up the phone and talk to Kevin Rumley about the late model, he’ll talk to Paul Silva about the sprint car and stuff. It’s neat when you have a crew chief that has your back and supports all the stuff that you race.

Is an Indy 500 on the horizon for you?

KYLE LARSON: I don’t know, like I said earlier, I would love to entertain anything, no matter what type of vehicle it may be. I like being known as a versatile race car driver. Yeah, I mean, I’m open to anything.

It’s just logistically it’s just a tough thing to do. It takes a lot of dedication to go race that event and not just say that you raced in it, say you want — I would want to go there and know that I’ve got a shot to win, know that I’ve put in the effort and the work to win, and it’s just logistically it’s tough. But I would for sure entertain it if Rick would let me.

(No microphone.)

KYLE LARSON: I don’t know, I haven’t talked to him about it. All this stuff, I feel like the Indy 500 question always comes up, and it usually comes up before the Indy 500, but I feel like this year has been weird because it’s been like all year everybody talks to me about it.

I’ve told everybody around me, like I don’t even want to talk about it until the season is over. We’ll see. Like I said, it just takes a lot of — it logistically takes a lot of work. I want to be with a good team, too.

When Mr. H was in here we were discussing the history of the No. 5 and the talented drivers that have been behind the wheel, and he mentioned Mark Martin, who he thought really had a legitimate shot to win a championship in the No. 5, and I mentioned to him that it was 25 years ago when Terry Labonte last brought the No. 5 a championship. I know you haven’t had time to think about that, but now you’re in an elite class with somebody like Terry Labonte, a Hall of Famer, bringing the 5 back to a championship. What are your thoughts about something like that?

KYLE LARSON: I’m really happy to be able to add on to the legacy of the number and the paint scheme and what all it means for Hendrick Motorsports and Rick and Linda Hendrick especially.

Yeah, it’s the originating car number for their team.

There’s just so many awesome things that now I get to be attached to with it, with that number. Just fortunate that he trusted me to carry on the legacy of the No. 5 and especially the paint scheme, and we were able add on to a lot of big wins and a lot of marquee special moments.

Jeff Gordon was saying tonight that he didn’t think at one point anybody could do the things that you’ve done this year and win all the different series because you’re winning at the elite levels in all series, and he said, Kyle is proving me wrong. You talked before the playoffs, you said, Every generation needs somebody to set high goals, and I’m fortunate to race in a lot of different cars. How do you explain the year that you’ve had with all the big wins and everything and what it’s meant to go through that — I think arguably you probably have to go back 40, 50 years to even look at anybody who’s done anything that you’ve done in the U.S.?

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, it’s just — I don’t know, I think another 20, 30 years from now I think I’ll be able to really sit down and appreciate it. I mean, I appreciate it for sure. I understand the season that we’ve had. But I don’t think you really can appreciate it until you hear of other generations talking — that are younger than me talking about a season like I’ve had.

I think I’m just a very lucky guy who gets to race in the best race cars of all the series that I get to run in. I’m in the best seat in the Cup Series. I’m in the best seat in a sprint car. I’m in the best seat in a late model. I’m in the best seat in a midget, whether it be with Chad Boat or my old car.

I think it takes a lot of hard work to get those opportunities and a lot of hard work to take advantage of it. But without good people around you and being able to be in good race cars, I would never get to have a season like I’ve had these last two years.

How did you convince the Hendrick folks to allow you to do the racing — you talked about you weren’t sure, and obviously when you came in I’m guessing you probably didn’t have a whole lot of leverage. And I know Jeff said he was for it, but he said Rick needed convincing. Was there anything that you were able to do, or how did you present your case to do this when there were probably a lot of questions?

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, you’re right. I knew I had no leverage at all when I went to meet with him or Rick and Jeff. I remember that initial meeting, it was great. Rick talked about how much he loved my driving style and this and that, and he’d love to get me in his race car.

Then he got to the end of the meeting, and he’s like, What’s something that you want? I was like, I’m nervous. I know how Rick Hendrick feels about dirt racing, and I hope I’m not shooting myself in the foot right here before I ask this question, but I was like, I’d like to race some dirt races.

He didn’t shut it down at all. Jeff had mentioned to me a few times before that the culture and how they kind of handle their drivers’ schedule was changing, but I didn’t really believe it. He was telling me that stuff. But I threw it out there, and I’ve gotten to race way more than I thought I would. When I was with Ganassi in the beginning, it was nothing. I couldn’t really race anything. Then it kind of morphed into 25 races in a year, and then it morphed into 25 races in a Cup season.

I thought I would be something similar to that. But by the end of this year I’ll race probably 100 total races, the most I’ve raced in a long time, especially a full-time Cup Series driver.

Also I know that there’s not as much racing at this point of the season just because everything is closing down, but I think Jeff said there was a little bit of concern about what it would be like if you weren’t racing as much during even the playoffs. I guess he said you went out and did some go-kart racing this week. Was there anything special about the go-kart racing you did this week or was it just —

KYLE LARSON: I didn’t do any go-kart racing this week. I did that go-kart race before the Roval. But yeah, I didn’t — they didn’t really have any restrictions on me all year long. When it got close to the playoffs, Jeff and — Jeff was like hinting, you shouldn’t — you should be really focused on the playoffs and this and that. Even Rick said it a few times. I kind of just played dumb, like yeah, yeah, whatever. Then I’d go off and race dirt races.

My kind of thought on it all was, why change what I was doing with my schedule when I feel like all that racing that I’ve done leading up to the playoffs helped me win a bunch of Cup races.

See, I felt like it was important for me to race during the playoffs, and it paid off. I hope that means good things for my schedule next year.

Rick Hendrick was in here earlier, and he said that he hopes that you retire with Hendrick Motorsports; how do you feel about that?

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I mean, I hope I’m with his organization as long as I want to race Cup cars. I don’t know how long that is. If we’re winning races and championships in 20 more years, I’ll still be doing it.

Yeah, it’s a great organization, one that I think every driver in the garage area would love to race for. Extremely fortunate and grateful and thankful and so many different other words that can describe how I feel about being there.

Yeah, Rick Hendrick is one of the greatest human beings I’ve gotten the pleasure to meet and get to know a little bit more this year. He’s got a great group of people running that place, and all of us drivers there are very lucky to be there.

I hope the four of us drivers can be a part of Hendrick Motorsports for a very long time because I feel like we all get along really well.

THE MODERATOR: Kyle, thank you so much for the time and enjoy the off-season.

— NASCAR —