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Kyle Larson won three times and, based on the expectations of most, underperformed in 2022. That’s what happens when you dominate and win 10 times and the championship the year before. 

The Hendrick Motorsports driver would be the first one to admit ’22 was a down season, where he finished a disappointing seventh overall. This offseason, the 30-year-old is doing something about it by doing something he’s never done in his career that should prove beneficial to the driver and pose a potential problem for his fellow competitors. 

Kyle Larson underperformed in 2022

Interestingly, Kyle Larson won earlier in the 2022 season than he did in 2021. Unfortunately, unlike the title-winning season, Larson went on a massive dry spell from the spring through the summer. His drought ended in late August when he used up his HMS teammate Chase Elliott on a late restart at Watkins Glen before cruising to victory. It was ironic and a flashback to when the No. 5 car initiated contact with the No. 9 late in the race in the last and only other time Larson made it to Victory Lane at Fontana in February.

That conflict with Elliott was present throughout the season. Whether or not it directly affected Larson’s success will never be known, but there’s no denying the California native struggled to find any consistency for whatever reason.  

The playoffs were a microcosm of his rollercoaster year and included a couple of top-5 finishes and two finishes of 35th or worse. All of it combined meant he missed out on the Championship 4 race and defending his title, and finished seventh in the final points standings. 

Larson admits doing something for first time this offseason

During the middle of Kyle Larson’s Cup Series run in 2021, there was also an interesting narrative about how much he was racing and winning outside of NASCAR. That competition in all race forms was a continuation of what he had done the year before after he was banned from NASCAR for using a racial slur during a streaming racing event. 

Larson ran as many sprint races this year, but his success mirrored his Cup performance and dwindled. Since the season ended at Phoenix, the driver has been hanging out with his family at their new Arizona home, preparing for the new baby, and doing something he hasn’t ever done before. 

“It’s been really laid back. We got a place out in Arizona,” he said during a recent appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “It’s been really my first-ever offseason I’ve ever had in my career. I’ve only ran one race since the finale at Phoenix. 

“It’s been really fun. This is the most time I’ve spent around my family and kids. We’ve taken them ice skating. We got Audrey into gymnastics. I got Owen signed up for wrestling. Trying to do normal people stuff, especially while I have the time to do it. 

“I’ve enjoyed it. We have another baby on the way that should hopefully be here anytime in the next couple of weeks. It’s going to get hectic but it’s been really fun to relax and kind of get away from racing for the first time in my life.” 

Should benefit from the time off

Kyle Larson on pit road
Kyle Larson walks to pit road during driver introductions prior to the running of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff YellaWood 500 on October 02, 2022 at Talladega SuperSpeedway. | Photo by Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Larson acknowledging this is the first time he’s ever had an offseason, allowing him to get away from the track and competition, is: a) remarkable, and b) sounds like it’s coming at the perfect time. 

It should prove beneficial on multiple levels, not only giving him quality time with his family but also providing him a chance to decompress and not think about work, including the conflict with Elliott, the various missteps in 2022 like the frightening incident with Ty Dillon at Indianapolis, or the disappointing overall season. 

And when the engines fire back up in February, a rested Kyle Larson with renewed energy and a hunger to get back behind the wheel will be good for the No. 5 team and bad for anyone racing against him. 


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