Rookie sensation Kyle Larson set to collect ROTY honors

NASCAR HOF'ers Rusty Wallace and Dale Jarrett discussed Kyle Larson and his remarkable 2014 debut.

Homestead, Fla. – A year ago at the Homestead-Miami Speedway, Kyle Larson was a virtual unknown, finishing 15th in only his fourth NASCAR Sprint Cup race. Fast-forwarding a year, Larson has become the rookie sensation with a pole, three second places, eight top 5s and 17 top 10s, making him a force to be reckoned with in every race.

When I saw Johnson driving inferior equipment in the Busch Series, you knew he was very talented, and I put Kyle Larson in that category.

Dale Jarrett on Kyle Larson's ability

For his efforts, he’s a lock to be named Sprint Cup rookie-of-the-year.

Joining Jamie McMurray on the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Chevrolet team, the team has regained its stature as a powerhouse operation.   

Wallace and Jarrett sing the praises of Kyle Larson

During a media event with Hall of Fame stars Rusty Wallace and Dale Jarrett, they were asked for their impressions of the 22-year old rising star.  

Said Wallace, "I think here (HMS) Kyle Larson will be bullet fast. Every time we go to tracks where you have to run at top of track, we are always talking about Kyle Larson in our meetings. He’s a superstar and a racer at heart. He really gets it, does great interviews and talks with his team real good and his feedback is fantastic. He’s the real deal much like the Chase Elliott kid.”  

One thing I like about him is his capability to run on top of the race track – no man’s land – every time I find a race track where you have to run at the top, I say this guy is going to be strong.

Rusty Wallace

Added Jarrett, “Not to take away anything from his (Nationwide) team of last year but when you see young drivers doing better than what their equipment is capable of, then you know that driver is very capable. I think Kyle Larson was doing that last year.”

Jarrett went on to compare Larson and Jimmie Johnson in his early days. “When I saw Johnson driving inferior equipment in the Busch Series, you knew he was very talented, and I put Kyle Larson in that category. He will win races and championships given the right situation.”

Wallace went on, saying “During a production meeting at ESPN, Vince Welch kept saying, ‘You have to watch out for Kyle Larson,’ and I said ‘Who the hell is Kyle Larson?’  I didn’t know him, but boy I figured it out real quick. He’s just a guy that has natural talent and natural talent is really something.  It is pretty hard to teach a guy how to go fast. One thing I like about him is his capability to run on top of the race track – no man’s land – every time I find a race track where you have to run at the top, I say this guy is going to be strong.

Larson off to a blistering fast start at Homestead, pulling triple duty

At HMS, Larson entered all three races and started the weekend off by capturing the pole position for the Ford EcoBoost 200, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Sporting a new mustache, the young driver raced to his second career pole in only his third NCWTS race of the season.  

In the 200-mile NCWTS season finale, Larson led 96 of the opening 101 laps but ended up in a hard-fought second place, giving it his all as the laps down. Regardless, the Californian thrilled the crowd with his exciting drive to the front and once again proved that his star will be shining brightly for years to come.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Event Homestead
Track Homestead-Miami Speedway
Drivers Dale Jarrett , Rusty Wallace , Jimmie Johnson , Jamie McMurray , Chip Ganassi , Felix Sabates , Kyle Larson , Chase Elliott
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing
Article type Press conference