Diversity Graduate Kyle Larson Scores First NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Victory

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 28, 2016) – Kyle Larson won Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway to become the first graduate of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity and the NASCAR Next programs to win at the sanctioning body’s top level.

Larson, the 24-year-old Elk Grove, California, native of Japanese-American heritage, has already won in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. His first win came in 2013 at Rockingham Speedway in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. He has since won another NASCAR Camping World Truck race, as well as four NASCAR XFINITY Series races.

The win at Michigan was the latest in a long line of ‘firsts’ accomplished by Larson in his young career. Among the highlights:

  • In 2014, Larson became the first NASCAR D4D and NASCAR Next product to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole (Pocono Raceway), as well as the first to win the Sunoco Rookie of the Year.
  • In 2013, he became the first NASCAR D4D graduate to win the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award in the NASCAR XFINITY Series.
  • Larson previously became the first NASCAR D4D competitor to win a NASCAR Touring Series championship. Driving for Rev Racing, Larson won the 2012 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East title and the Sunoco Rookie of the Year.

On Sunday, the Chip Ganassi Racing driver won the Pure Michigan 400, driving the No. 42 Chevrolet, leading a race-high 41 laps in his 99th career start.

With the win, Larson clinches a spot in NASCAR’s playoffs – the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

NASCAR Next is an industry-wide initiative designed to spotlight to best and brightest rising young stars in racing. NASCAR Drive for Diversity, operated by Rev Racing, is an academy-style development program for female and multicultural drivers and crew members who have the potential and determination to succeed at the highest levels of NASCAR. Larson raced under both banners in 2012.

About Greg Engle 7420 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.