Gordon: NASCAR Cup winner Larson "a great champion"

Jeff Gordon had a Hall of Fame NASCAR career with Hendrick Motorsports, so he knows first-hand the talented drivers the organization can produce.

Gordon: NASCAR Cup winner Larson "a great champion"

Four-time NASCAR Cup champion Jeff Gordon says that 2021 series winner Kyle Larson has done "amazing things" in his first season with Hendrick Motorsports.

After a brief stint as a TV analyst with Fox Sports following his racing career, Gordon returned to Hendrick in an official role in June of this year as vice-chairman of the team.

Gordon played a large role, along with team owner Rick Hendrick, in bringing Kyle Larson on board as one of its full-time Cup drivers this season following his NASCAR suspension in 2020 for using a racial slur over the radio during a public iRacing event.

Larson repaid their faith by winning 10 races of 36 races this season, including Sunday's season finale at Phoenix Raceway, which also handed him the series championship in his first year with the #5 team.

“Kyle Larson is a great talent. You give him a great race car and great race teams and he does amazing things,” Gordon said.

“We’ve seen it before, seen it in other forms of racing. He and this pit crew and this team, they did it all year long. They got to this point.

“What a battle. I just want to say Phoenix Raceway, NASCAR and all these fans that came out here today, this is what a championship weekend is supposed to feel like, and that was a championship battle.

Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro HendrickCars.com, Martin Truex Jr., Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry Bass Pro Shops

Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro HendrickCars.com, Martin Truex Jr., Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry Bass Pro Shops

Photo by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images

“Great competitors and a great champion here.”

Larson’s victory was something of a team effort, as he grabbed the lead for the final time in the race thanks to a pit stop under the final caution that gained him three positions.

Once the race restarted on Lap 289 of 312, Larson then had to hold off several serious challenges from Martin Truex Jr to secure his 10th victory of the season and the championship.

“It was a total team effort not just from the whole season but from the whole weekend, how they prepared to go qualify and get that lap to win the pole, get the #1 pit stall, and they had great (pit) stops all day long,” Gordon said.

“An unfortunate caution that got them behind and then another one that helped him get another opportunity, and I think I heard it was like the second best (pit) stop of the entire year.

“That’s what championship teams do.”

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