Top open wheel prospect Kyle Larson wants NASCAR over IndyCar
One of open wheel racing's top young drivers is headed to NASCAR where he can be paid to drive rather than to IndyCar, which has little sponsorship and he has to buy his ride. More evidence NASCAR needs to buy IndyCar.
|Kyle Larson - why buy an IndyCar ride when he can be paid to drive|
Kyle Larson wants to race in NASCAR because he wants to follow the path of such star drivers as Tony Stewart and Kasey Kahne.
The 20-year-old Larson competed in more than 125 races—including 29 victories—in 2012 racing everything from Dirt Late Models to winged Sprint cars to Camping World Truck Series events. Not even 10 percent of his races came in the series where he won the title as Larson captured the 2012 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East crown.
“It would be tough just running only once or twice a week,” said Larson, who headed to New Zealand over the Christmas holidays just to race. The California native is considered a top, if not the top, prospect in NASCAR and, before that, open wheel racing. Tony Stewart is a big fan and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Larson driving for Stewart one day although Larson reportedly has seven years left on a development contract with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing.
In 2011, he won 22 races combined in the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series, all three USAC national divisions, and in the American Sprint Car Series.
He made his most noticeable mark by winning in Silver Crown, sprint cars, and Midgets all in one night at Stewart’s Eldora Speedway.
|Kyle Larson was an up and coming open wheel superstar. Where are all those journalists who criticized CART for letting Jeff Gordon get away to NASCAR? IndyCar under the Hulman George regime has let Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne and now Kyle Larson get away to NASCAR. They must be at home eating crow.|
That led to his ride at Rev Racing, where Larson, who is half-Japanese, was eligible to race as part of NASCAR’s diversity program.
His 2013 plans are still to be determined but he needs more time in the NASCAR trucks to learn how to race on the radial tires.
“This is my first year in stock cars, so I've learned a lot,” Larson said. “I've really learned how to race side-by-side with guys for a few laps before you can actually get by them because with the Sprint car stuff, you just blow right past them and don't waste any time passing them.
“I've learned that, and I've really learned patience.”
Why is Larson even racing in NASCAR? There are some who think he could be the next great thing in IndyCar racing.
But Larson wants to race where Stewart, Kahne and Jeff Gordon race and make millions of dollars per year. They excelled on the dirt tracks in open-wheel cars before they went Cup racing where the money is.
“There for a while growing up I wanted to run Indy cars but once I started racing and paying attention to it, I paid a lot more attention to stock-car racing and NASCAR,” Larson said. “That’s kind of what I wanted to do. … All the guys that grew up racing the stuff that I’m racing now, I always wanted to race with them in stock cars.
“That’s why I would like to race NASCAR more than anything. (But) the Indy 500 would be a blast. The good thing with Ganassi is they have Indy cars so maybe some day I can get that opportunity.”
For now, he’s focused on stock cars.
Stewart has advice for Larson’s competition.
“(I) watched Kyle drive for three different teams and win all three divisions (in 2011) and he had never been to Eldora before,” said Stewart, who has had Larson in his Sliver Crown car. “It was just something that caught the whole open-wheel crowd by storm.
“… I’ve spent some time with the kid. I really like him and I think he’s going to be really good.”