NASCAR

19-year-old gains ground in NASCAR

Kyle Larson is one of NASCAR's young rising stars.
Share This Story

Lee Spencer

Lee Spencer is the Senior NASCAR Writer for FOXSports.com. She has provided award-winning coverage of auto racing over the last 15 years. Spencer has lent her expertise to both television and radio and is a regular contributor to SiriusXM Radio and the Performance Racing Network. Follow her on Twitter.

MORE>>
 
   
 

SPARTA, Ken.

From his ARCA debut at Michigan International Speedway two weeks ago to his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series coming-out party Thursday night at Kentucky Speedway, Kyle Larson is quickly rising through the racing ranks.

WIDE OPEN

Which NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers won in 2012?

While most youngsters are concentrating on their studies, the Elk Grove, Calif., native who turns 20 next month is getting his education behind the wheel.

“Based on my schedule, I have 120 - 130 races that I’m running this year,” Larson said. “So I’m pretty busy between Sprint cars, Midgets, wing, non-wing, pavement, dirt.”

Larson, 19, will drive the No. 4 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet for Turner Motorsports just a day or so after he passed one of his heroes, Tony Stewart, in a winged-sprint car.

When Stewart was asked on "Wind Tunnel" who he believed would be the next SPEED Performer of the Year, his answer was Larson.

“It’s a guy that I’ve got to run with a little bit, and he’s not in a major series as far as IndyCar or Formula One or NASCAR right now,” Stewart told Dave Despain. “Kyle Larson is a kid that definitely stands out right now. Watching him in the USAC Midgets, Sprint Car and Silver Crown and watching him in the winged-sprint cars with the World of Outlaws and out on the West Coast, the kid is absolutely phenomenal.

“He’s been running those K&N races and doing a really good job. He’s a kid that really has a lot of potential.”

For Larson, it’s a long way from the days when he sat on his mother’s lap at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, Calif., learning about racing flags.

Larson’s parents were “big fans” when he was younger. Larson’s father, Mike, built him his first go-kart when Kyle was 4 “just to play around in.” He didn’t run competitively until he was 7 and moved into Sprint cars at 14.

Before the season started, Larson — who became the first racer to post wins in a World of Outlaws event and all three USAC divisions in the same season — was named to the 2012 NASCAR Drive for Diversity program. Under the D4D banner, Larson runs for Rev Racing in the K&N Pro Series. His first victory on that tour came at Gresham Motorsports Park on June 9.

Larson was also placed under contract by Chip Ganassi at the start of the season. However, Larson says he doesn’t feel any “added pressure” being recruited by one of the most successful owners in American motorsports.

“It doesn’t feel much different other than I’m racing stock cars a little bit,” he said. “I still get to race the Sprint cars and stuff. Other than racing stock cars and living in North Carolina, it’s about the same as it was before. It’s been good. I don’t pay attention (to the publicity). I just try to race and do the best I can.”

Larson recently moved to Huntersville, NC, but admits he’s “never there. I’m always racing.” Not surprising since his season began in Auckland, New Zealand, before jetting back to Tulsa for the Chili Bowl and back down under to Australia for four more events. Leading into Thursday’s UNOH 225 Truck race, Larson had competed in 60 events.

“Obviously, I want to get to the Cup series someday,” Larson said. “But if I could ever get a shot at running the Indy 500, that would be real cool. To race in a series week in and week out, I’d like to run NASCAR for sure. We’ll have to wait and see (what my next stock car move will be). It all depends how I’m doing this year. They’re not going to move me up until I’m ready, and I wouldn’t want to either.

“Hopefully, as each year goes on, I move up more and more, but I’m just taking it as it comes. As of right now, I just want to go out and win as many races as I can and try to build my name up even more. I just want to win.”

Tagged: Tony Stewart

More Stories From Lee Spencer

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by



NASCAR Videos

Larry’s Notebook: Is Jimmie Johnson Behind the Curve? Posted: Jul 15, 2014
Larry McReynolds weighs in on whether or not the No. 48 will be at a disadvantag...

Larry’s Notebook: Off-Week Blues Posted: Jul 15, 2014
Larry McReynolds weighs in on which teams will benefit the most from the week of...

Winner's Weekend: Brad Keselowski Unstoppable at Loudon Posted: Jul 15, 2014
The biggest issue the No. 2 team faced at Loudon was where to hide the champagne...

More Than Sports on MSN

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Chase Authentics Danica Patrick Big Rig Tri-Blend T-Shirt - Charcoal http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Danica_Patrick/browse/featuredproduct/974547/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_974000/ff_974547_xl.jpg&w=100 26.95 Chase Authentics Danica Patrick Big Rig Tri-Blend T-Shirt - Charcoal
    Kyle Busch One Spot Gauge T-Shirt - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Kyle_Busch/browse/featuredproduct/1011659/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1011000/ff_1011659_xl.jpg&w=100 19.95 Kyle Busch One Spot Gauge T-Shirt - Black
    Matt Kenseth One Spot Gauge T-Shirt - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Matt_Kenseth/browse/featuredproduct/1011661/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1011000/ff_1011661_xl.jpg&w=100 9.99 Matt Kenseth One Spot Gauge T-Shirt - Black
    Chase Authentics Carl Edwards 2013 Driver Schedule T-Shirt - Ash http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Carl_Edwards/browse/featuredproduct/1041164/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1041000/ff_1041164_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Chase Authentics Carl Edwards 2013 Driver Schedule T-Shirt - Ash