Watkins Glen, N. Y. – Kyle Larson continue to dazzle the racing community and fans with his skills and accomplishments. Also, his busy travel schedule often tires out many but being only 21 years of age, he can do things that others can only dream about. So far in 2013, he’s driven midgets, winged and non-winged sprint cars, late models and on the NASCAR side of the house, he competes full-time in the Nationwide Series and occasionally in the Camping World Truck Series.
As a development driver for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, Larson’s future looks to be extremely bright and some believe he will move up to the Sprint Cup Series in next year or two. In meantime, he keeps on the move. This week he’s raced winged and wingless sprint cars in Iowa, finishing second in the Oskaloosa race where Tony Stewart was injured. Qualifying for the famed Knoxville Nationals turned out to be a challenge, and he had to depart Watkins Glen after only a few laps of practice to fly back to Knoxville. The flight turned out to be a good investment as he powered to victory in a 30-lap qualifying race, earning a starting spot in Saturday night’s lucrative 50-lap A main where he came away with a sixth-place finish.
Commenting on his season to date, Larson said, “We were quick at the beginning of the year but then I was getting caught up in accidents (including the multi-car dizzying crash at Daytona) or something would happen to our car. For the last couple of months, it has been pretty good as we have been more consistent. That has gotten us up in the point standings, so now I think we are doing pretty well.”
Growing up on dirt tracks, Larson had nominal exposure to pavement racing and no experience with road courses until recently. To prep for the Nationwide Series races at Road America, Mid-Ohio and Watkins Glen, the California native and a handful of other drivers signed-up for the Ron Fellows Performance Driving School. While there, Larson proved to be quick learner, and he displayed his new-found skills during his road-racing debut at Road America a month ago.
According to Fellows, the road-racing guru, Larson displayed a willingness to learn, had notable patience and handled the car well. Also, Fellows was impressed with Larson’s quiet hands and his ability to think and look ahead on the track.
During the Road America race, Larson ran with the front-pack and was a contender as the race wound down. He advanced to fourth at one point only to spin off the track, but he rebounded for a commendable seventh place finish.
“I thought I would do okay but didn’t expect to do as well as I did,” he said. “I got up to fourth before I spun out, but I did manage to get back to seventh. I was pretty proud of that run.” In addition to the driving school, he also used the iRacing models to learn more about the new tracks. I’ve done enough iRacing to prepare me for Watkins Glen. I already know the corners, but I have to get used to the braking zones and shifting patterns.”
Asked if he was concerned about the dangers he faces along with Stewart, he said without hesitation, “That’s what Tony and I love to do, and I think it makes us better race drivers the more we race. I think the teams understand that and know we love to do it.” So far this season, Larson said he has raced 45 times on dirt and expects to do another 15 or so before the year ends.
Whether on dirt or pavement, road course or oval, Larson’s prowess reminds today’s fans of Tony Stewart and older fans of the likes of A. J. Foyt, Parnelli Jones and Mario Andretti – racing every kind of car on any type of track and more likely than not coming home with the winning hardware.
Larson continues to be labeled as a future star and assuming he stays on pace, he will soon be on the main stage to the delight of his ever-increasing fan base.