Larson feels he is "the last true racer" in the NASCAR Cup Series

Kyle Larson means no disrespect when he considers himself “the last true racer” in the NASCAR Cup garage.

Larson feels he is "the last true racer" in the NASCAR Cup Series
Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane
Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Kyle Larson
Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Listen to this article

No matter the car, no matter the track, no matter the surface, Larson will climb in and race.

And that makes him a dying breed in the stock car ranks. No brag--just a fact.

“There are other drivers at the Cup level that go on their off-weekends and run other types of racing and stuff,” Larson said. “They don’t race nearly as much as I do outside of NASCAR. And I would race a lot more, if I was allowed to. That’s why I feel like I’m the last true racer.”

Racing as much as possible

In 2012, Larson ran 123 races while competing — and winning — his first NASCAR title in the K&N Pro Series. The same season, he finished fifth in the USAC Midget Series. He raced for 22 different owners in a combination of midgets, winged and non-winged sprint cars, trucks and stock cars. He won 30 races, competing in multiple different divisions at 20 different tracks — a mixture of dirt and pavement.

Larson’s team owner, Chip Ganassi, limits his driver’s extracurricular racing to 25-dirt races a year.

“I would love to race any type of vehicle, whether it’s in a circle or a straight line or a road course, I don’t care,” Larson said. “I just feel like I think like Andretti and Foyt and Tony Stewart, like I feel like I’m in the same category as them.

“They would race anything every day of the week. Like I said, there’s a couple that will race here and there, but I would race every day of the week if I could. So, that’s why I feel like I’m the last true racer left.”

Larson’s moxie — and talent — make him uniquely qualified to attract the next generation of race fans. Since his fourth race of the season, Larson has led the Monster Energy Cup point standings. Despite the retirements of former open wheel turned NASCAR drivers Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart — and this week’s announcement of Dale Earnhardt Jr. stepping down — Larson believes there is plenty of talent to take over.

“Although it’s sad that we have all our veterans and heroes retiring,” Larson said. “I think NASCAR is in a great position with all the young talent that they have in the Cup series currently, and really in every feeder series below them, there’s a lot of young guys with great equipment and good backing. So, I think the competition will be good.”

Filling the void once Dale Jr. retires

When it comes to potential candidates to capture the on-track attention of Junior Nation once Earnhardt Jr. retires from full-time competition, Larson wouldn’t be a bad backup plan.

“There’s a lot of personalities, too, with people getting themselves out there on social media and stuff like that; showing their personalities,” Larson said. “So, I feel like we’re in a good spot to have some new stars step-up. I know a lot of people have been pointing at myself and Chase (Elliott) and (Ryan) Blaney, just to name three.

“That’s pretty cool to be in that category and hopefully we all have a lot of Junior’s fans kind of dispersed to cheer for us and don’t just leave the sport totally. So, it’s going to be interesting to see, with him retiring, how it changes the sport, popularity-wise. It could be good. It could be bad. Who knows? I think all of us young guys are ready to kind of fill in his shoes a little bit.”

shares
comments
Kenseth takes Richmond pole over Blaney
Previous article

Kenseth takes Richmond pole over Blaney

Next article

Erik Jones ends second Richmond practice on top

Erik Jones ends second Richmond practice on top
Load comments
How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory Prime

How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory

From villain to hero, Kyle Larson had to reach his lifelong goal the hard way and go through a very public shaming after a ban for using a racial slur, but his talents shone long before his name grabbed the headlines...

NASCAR Cup
Nov 10, 2021
How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022 Prime

How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022

It’s not just Formula 1 that’s set for upheaval in 2022, as the NASCAR Cup series adopts its Next Gen cars that will cast any in-built advantages aside and require teams to adopt a totally new way of operating. Far more than just a change of machinery, the new cars amount to a shift in NASCAR's core philosophy

NASCAR Cup
Oct 12, 2021
Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR Prime

Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR

Bubba Wallace claimed his maiden NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega on Monday to become the first Black victor in the category since Wendell Scott in 1963. Both Wallace and Scott had faced obstacles and racism in their paths to their breakthrough wins, and NASCAR is trying to put it right with its range of diversity programmes

NASCAR Cup
Oct 5, 2021
Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI Prime

Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI

In a career that has had many ups and downs, Kurt Busch has been written off many times before. But facing career uncertainty after the sale of Chip Ganassi's NASCAR team, the 2004 Cup champion has found a new berth at Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan's 23XI organization - which underlines his enduring value

NASCAR Cup
Aug 31, 2021
From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview Prime

From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview

The death of Dale Earnhardt in the 2001 Daytona 500 shocked NASCAR to the core. At the Daytona 24 Hours, two weeks before his fatal accident, ‘The Intimidator’ shared his expectations of challenging for an eighth Cup title with JONATHAN INGRAM, in an article first published in the 15 February 2001 issue of Autosport magazine. Little did we know then what tragedy would unfold…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death Prime

The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death

On February 18, 2001, seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Dale Earnhardt – the fearless ‘Intimidator’ – was in his element at Daytona International Speedway. While his own DEI team’s cars ran 1-2 towards the finish line, his famed #3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo was playing rear gunner to block any late runs from the chasing pack. As the cars tore through Turns 3 and 4 on that fateful final lap, Earnhardt maintained the strongarm tactics that encapsulated his persona… but his actions in those moments sadly proved to be his last.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR Prime

Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR

The NASCAR Cup Series is changing. Whether it be the gradual morphing out the seasoned drivers of yesterday as the next generation step up, a radical calendar shake-up featuring more road courses than ever before and the prospect of an all-new car on the horizon, stock car racing’s highest level is nearing the end of a huge facelift.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 16, 2021
The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021 Prime

The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021

This weekend's Daytona 500 kickstarts a NASCAR Cup season that promises plenty of intrigue courtesy of new owners and a refreshed calendar. Here's what you need to know ahead of the new season…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 13, 2021