NASCAR: 2021 season ends with Larson as the champ giving Hendrick Motorsports and Chevy a big boost

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.

Here are some quotes from the NBC Sports broadcast crew:

“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

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.”

Dale 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.”

Dale 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.”

Brad 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.”

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.”