Kyle Larson has pretty much been playing by his own rules since he joined NASCAR nearly 10 years ago. If NASCAR officials asked him not to do something, particularly during his early years in the sport, he saw it more as a suggestion than a rule. And, when it came to his signature celebration, he was going to do it whether the sanctioning body liked it or not.
Following his win at the 2016 Pure Michigan 400 -- the first win of his Cup Series career -- Larson ripped his patented celebratory burnout without a steering wheel, despite NASCAR higher-ups asking him not to do it. I've heard of a rebel without a cause, but rebel without a wheel? Well, that's Kyle Larson for you.
Larson's disobedient antics at Michigan International Speedway marked the third time that NASCAR had to chastise him for his steering wheel-less burnout. The first time happened back in 2013 after he won his first Truck Series race, while the sequel went down following Larson's first Xfinity Series race win in 2014. Despite it being Larson's third strike and NASCAR explicitly warning him against the celebration, the sanctioning body cut him some slack, considering the momentous occasion. Though, I'm sure he at least got a stern talking-to.
As for Larson's first Cup win, it was an emotional one for the Elk Grove, California native for a couple reasons. First, it snapped a 99-race winless streak and gave Larson a spot in the 2016 NASCAR playoffs with only two races remaining in the regular season (he'd ultimately finish ninth in the standings). Second, it came a couple weeks after the death of Bryan Clauson, a close friend of Larson's who was fatally injured during a midget car race in Kansas. During the post-race interview in Victory Lane, Larson dedicated the win to Clauson and his family.
"I was tearing up those last few laps because I was feeling that was finally going to be it; we weren't going to have a caution," Larson said. "This one's for the Clauson family. We're really missing Bryan. We love you guys. We parked it for him so that was really cool."
Since Larson's big win at Michigan, he's garnered an additional 16 Cup wins to go along with his 2021 Cup championship. At only 30 years old, the Hendrick Motorsports driver will no doubt see the checkered flag several more times during his career, and you know he'll be ready to add plenty more celebratory burnouts to his highlight reel.