Ganassi’s Larson, Karam better prepared for 2nd Rolex race

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) Chip Ganassi Racing drivers Kyle Larson and Sage Karam are feeling much more comfortable in their second Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Both made their debut in the prestigious sports car race last January, and to this day, Larson believes his time in the No. 02 car was awful.

His problems began on his first stint, when the car ran out of fuel as it headed to pit road for the driver change. The engine wasn’t running when Larson got in the car, and after getting it started, he immediately stalled it as he tried to pull away.

Then he sped down pit road and had to return for a speeding penalty. The sequence soured his mood, and Larson felt he was too slow during his time driving the car.

”I was out to lunch last year,” said Larson, the reigning Sprint Cup Series rookie of the year.

Karam didn’t feel much better when he got his first crack at driving the No. 01. He drew the middle of the night graveyard shift and got into a damaged car that had handling issues and was off the pace.

”It wasn’t a very fun stint. It wasn’t a very good race,” he said.

Both are far more settled in this year after considerable track time during a test session earlier this month. And Karam drove in three other sports car races for Ganassi last season, finishing second with Scott Pruett at Indianapolis in July.

In the pre-set driver rotations, Karam is now scheduled to drive the second stint after five-time winner Pruett. Larson is fourth in the rotation of Scott Dixon, Jamie McMurray and Tony Kanaan.

Dixon said Larson was ”thrown into the deep end” last year, but is set for Saturday’s race.

”Kyle, his first year, everybody gets nervous, and his first stint started out with some issues,” Dixon said. ”This year he’s slipped right in, is straight-up to speed. I think he’s not having to think about all the other things. A lot of people forget how different these cars are to a Cup car, especially with the electronics, with the switches and how they work. You look at the dash and all there are 40 switches on there.

”So I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how fast they have gotten up to speed this year.”