Kyle Larson doesn’t consider himself the favorite

(Greg Engle,


Hendrick Motorsports driver Kyle Larson holds an important opportunity in his run for the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series championship. Should the 2021 champ win the title Sunday, he’d join two-time champions Kyle Busch and Joey Logano as the only active drivers with multiple titles.

“I think you can make a case for all of us,” Larson said of his title competitors. “And I think whoever wins Sunday is a very deserving champion.”

At only 31-years old, the Californian is the veteran of this year’s championship-eligible quartet. With four wins – five if you include the All-Star Race – Larson has topped the 1,000-miles led mark for the third time in his career. His 1,127 total laps led is most in the series. He has 14 top-five and 17 top-10 finishes in his No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet and along with Denny Hamlin leads the series with eight stage wins on the season.

Phoenix has been a particularly good place for him. His championship win in 2021 came from pole position, and he led the most laps (107 of 321) in the race. He has 11 top-10 finishes in 18 starts at the one-mile track and led 201 laps this Spring, only to finish fourth in a race won by teammate William Byron.

Even with his success at Phoenix – and success in general – the 23-time NASCAR Cup Series winner refuses to consider himself the odds-on favorite this weekend – even as the most experienced and winningest NASCAR Cup Series driver among the four.

“I don’t view us as having a leg up on the others because we have a championship at all,” Larson said. “That was a couple years ago, totally different race car, pit stops are different, restarts are different, the race is different. It’s all different. All of us have a fairly equal shot.

“I came into the Championship 4 a couple years ago with no experience in the round of four and really had been in the Round of 8 only one other time before then. It does not make a difference. If your team executes right, any of us could win.”