NASCAR: Kyle Larson has finally landed sponsors for 2021

Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images) /

Hendrick Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Larson has finally landed external sponsors for the 2021 season, with Cincinnati Inc. and Freightliner joining the #5 team.

Kyle Larson hasn’t competed in a NASCAR Cup Series race in nearly 11 months, with his most recent start coming at Phoenix Raceway early last March before the coronavirus pandemic hit and caused an unexpected 10-week hiatus in live action.

During that hiatus, the then-Chip Ganassi Racing driver of the #42 Chevrolet was competing in an iRacing event and uttered a racial slur.

That set off a disastrous chain of events, most notably NASCAR suspending the 28-year-old Elk Grove, California native indefinitely and multiple sponsors cutting ties with him, which ultimately culminated with Chip Ganassi being forced to fire him and replacing him with 2003 champion Matt Kenseth.

Larson worked hard to get himself reinstated by NASCAR, and he did a lot of work behind the scenes in regard to personal growth.

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That got him back in the Cup Series for the 2021 season with Hendrick Motorsports as the replacement for seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson, who retired after last season.

Larson is set to drive the #5 Chevrolet this season, as Alex Bowman moved from the team’s #88 Chevrolet to Johnson’s #48 Chevrolet. The number 5, which hadn’t been used since Kasey Kahne’s last season with the team in 2017, replaced the number 88. But up until now, he hadn’t been able to land any external sponsors, which wasn’t unexpected, given the nature of what he did to end up out of the sport for almost a full year.

Now that has changed.

Machine tool maker Cincinnati Inc. and heavy-duty truck manufacturer Freightliner, two existing Hendrick Motorsports partners, have announced the expansion of their NASCAR programs to serve as the primary sponsor of the #5 Chevrolet for two races each throughout the 36-race 2021 season.

Here is what Larson had to say about adding these sponsors in a team release.

"“I’m excited Cincinnati and Freightliner have increased their partnership with Hendrick Motorsports and are now part of the No. 5 team. [Crew chief] Cliff [Daniels] has built a team that I know can battle for wins on a weekly basis. With the support of great partners like Cincinnati and Freightliner, I can’t wait to get back to the track and go to work. It’s great to have them along for the ride.”"

Here is what team owner Rick Hendrick had to add.

"“We’re pleased to have Cincinnati and Freightliner grow their respective partnerships with us. The best way we can show our appreciation is with high performance on and off the racetrack. NASCAR has tremendous momentum going into 2021, and Kyle and the No. 5 crew will certainly be one of the most exciting teams to watch this year. We look forward to seeing Cincinnati and Freightliner at the front of the field with them.”"

Tim Warning, president and CEO of Cincinnati Inc., had this to say.

"“We are very happy to announce the expansion of our NASCAR program in 2021. Our entire team takes great pride in knowing that Cincinnati machines contribute to the success of Hendrick Motorsports on the racetrack, including last year’s Cup Series championship. It was also extremely powerful to see the Cincinnati car in victory lane at Auto Club Speedway in 2020, which ignited incredible enthusiasm inside our company and with our customers. We’re looking forward to building a strong relationship with Kyle and sharing in the excitement of winning more races with the No. 5 team.”"

Finally, Pete Hobbs, Freightliner’s vice president of on-highway market development, had this to add.

"“We take great pride in growing our relationship with Hendrick Motorsports and expanding our support of Kyle Larson and his team. Freightliner is dedicated to delivering efficiency and performance to our customers, and it’s how we set the pace for the rest of our industry. We look forward to cheering on the No. 5 this season.”"

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The 2021 season is scheduled to get underway next Sunday, February 14 with the 63rd annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. Fox is set to broadcast the race live beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET.