Earnhardt Ganassi Racing officially announced on Friday that Kyle Larson will inherit the seat in the No. 42 EGR Chevrolet in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2014. He’ll replace Juan Pablo Montoya, who has been relieved of driving duties with the organization, effective at the end of the 2013 season.
“I’m real excited,” Larson said. “I’m sure there’ll be growing pains for sure, but I’ll grow as a driver and mature as a person.”
Larson already had a development deal with Earnhardt Ganassi, and through that deal, is competing full-time in the NASCAR Nationwide Series this season as driver of the No. 32 Turner Scott Motorsports Chevrolet.
Larson is the leading Rookie of the Year candidate, this year, in Nationwide Series competition. He’s eighth in the overall series championship points standings on the strength of six top-fives and 13 top-10 finishes through 23 races. He has also competed in two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races this year for Turner Scott, winning the truck race at Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway in April. He has yet to make a Sprint Cup Series start.
Larson, a participant in NASCAR’s Drive 4 Diversity Program, came to NASCAR from the USAC ranks. He still runs USAC Midget races in his spare time.
“Certainly, we think Kyle is the future of this sport,” EGR owner Chip Ganassi said. “He’s a unique talent. That was a racing decision. We feel Kyle is the best short and longer term choice for (sponsor) Target. Kyle was our first choice. We didn’t offer any deals to other drivers. We talked to a number of other drivers. At the end of the day, we felt Kyle Larson was the best option.”
Meanwhile, Montoya is speculated to be returning to IndyCar. He’ll finish out the year in the 2013 in a bid to make the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup. With two races remaining, including Sunday’s Advocare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, before the cutoff to get into the 12-man Chase, Montoya is 21st in the points standings. His chances of getting into the Chase are a long shot. In addition to getting into the top-20 of the points standings, Montoya would need to win both the Atlanta race and next weekend’s race at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. He has never won a Sprint Cup race on an oval.