Kyle Larson “Lets The Big Dog Eat” In An Overtime Restart!

Kyle Larson
Sitting in his racecar during a red flag delay near the end of the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway, “Young Money”, aka Kyle Larson, pondered the possible routes to an overtime victory. He was in fourth-place and would restart for the final two-lap shootout behind leader Martin Truex Jr. on the outside line.

Larson hadn’t had a fast racecar all day at Michigan International Speedway, but he thought with a gutsy move on the restart, he could steal a win in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race. Ahead of him, Truex, the race leader, was in the opposite positon. He had had a fast racecar all day, and he figured he needed a strong restart to repel whatever move Larson or somebody else would throw at him. Like Larson, he was trying to figure out which scenario would be most likely to take him to Victory Lane.

As it turned out, Larson and Truex both drew up the same plan—they both wanted Larson to hit Truex on the restart. They just had different ideas about what would happen after the push/hit.

Truex hoped the contact would push him forward and to the victory, and for a very brief second, that seemed possible. But Truex spun his tires, which played right into Larson’s strategy.

“I wanted to time it and get to his bumper and act like I was pushing him out to the lead and duck underneath him and get to his left-rear quarter and pull him back,” Larson said. “It’s crazy how when you get to someone’s left rear quarter how much it slows them down. It did just that.”

Larson bounced off of Truex as he passed him, and for a split second the race fanned out four wide. That never ends well—especially not on the penultimate lap when all four drivers are going for the win and nobody is willing to lift! But somehow they all stayed off each other, and afterward, rookie Erik Jones, one of those drivers, was at a loss to explain how. “I was pointed at the infield for half of (Turns) one and two,” said Jones, who finished third.

After the pass, Larson’s car was loose for the rest of the restart lap and the white flag lap. But he put enough distance between him and Truex that Truex couldn’t catch him and had to settle for second. Those were the only two laps Larson led all day. The thrilling win in a car that had no business doing so looked like a career defining move for Larson, the young driver from Elk Grove, California.

The win was an exclamation point on an already great week of racing for Larson. He (Larson) finished second late Saturday night in the Knoxville Nationals, one of the biggest dirt races in the world. His contract forbids him from running on dirt the night before he has to be on track for NASCAR, be it practice, qualifying or a race. But on Thursday, he talked team owner Chip Ganassi into making an exception.  It also didn’t hurt that thousands of sprint car fans inundated Ganassi’s Facebook page and emails asking him to let Larson race at Knoxville.

Ganassi harbored misgivings about the decision—he thought Larson, who didn’t get back to Michigan from Knoxville, Iowa until 2:30 a.m. Sunday might be too worn out for the 400 mile race, and those doubts grew bigger in the middle of the race as Larson languished in the middle of the pack. But after the win, Ganassi joyously shook team members on the pit box and planted a kiss on Larson.

It was Larson’s third consecutive win at Michigan. The only other drivers to accomplish that are David Pearson and “Awesome Bill From Dawsonville”, both of whom are in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The race was slowed by five cautions for 28 laps.

Michigan native Brad Keselowski won the first stage. He dominated the first half of the race, leading five times for 105 laps. But he faded to 17th. Truex led three times for 57 laps and won the second stage. Truex kept his position atop the points race, but finished runner-up.

What Larson showed the NASCAR world at Michigan was that he willed himself to win that race.  He proved to all that he wanted the victory more than the rest of the field!

Check out the unofficial results of the Pure Michigan 400.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

“Young Money” Will Have A Full Weekend!

Kyle Larson
After a dominating win on Wednesday night at the Knoxville Nationals, Kyle Larson faced a dilemma. He had qualified for the prestigious A-main finals of one of the premiere dirt races in the world. The problem was the race was set for Saturday night, and his contract with Chip Ganassi Racing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series forbids him from racing on dirt the day before he has to drive the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, be it qualifying, practice or the race.

On Thursday, he appeared with Ganassi at an event in downtown Detroit unveiling the Camaro ZL1 as Chevrolet’s entry in next year’s 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. On the drive to the airport afterward, Larson tried to talk Ganassi into allowing an exception. The team owner voiced his concerns—the contract language exists to make sure Larson is fresh and to give the team time to find a replacement if he gets injured.

With Larson and other team officials pleading Larson’s case, Ganassi ultimately relented, and now Larson will race in the event in Knoxville, Iowa on Saturday to try to put an exclamation point at the end of what he calls his favorite week of racing of the year. He finished fifth in the event last year. “I’m thankful for Chip to even allow me to do what I get to do right now,” Larson says. “It’s especially nice that he’s making an exception for Saturday night.”

Larson expects to fly to Iowa after his responsibilities at Michigan International Speedway end on Saturday afternoon. He will race at night and fly back to Michigan after that. He doesn’t have to be anywhere at MIS until 11:30 Sunday morning. “I’ll still be able to get plenty of sleep and be ready,” he said.

Larson has won two races in a row at Michigan.

“Young Money” could be flying back to Michigan Saturday night $150,000.00 richer, if he wins the feature at Knoxville!

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Kyle Larson, CGR And Credit Bank One Partner To Donate $25,000

Kyle Larson
Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 42 Chevrolet SS and Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) team engineers made a pit stop at Meeting Street Academy in Charleston, S.C. today, to speak to the fourth and fifth grade science classes about the role STEM subjects play in racing. Team partner Credit One Bank was also in attendance and donated $25,000 to the school.

“I loved meeting with the students of Meeting Street Academy,” said Larson. “Getting the chance to talk with kids about what I do is always something I enjoy, and they seemed pretty excited to hear about racing and fast cars. It was also fun to have some of our engineers on hand to explain how they build our cars. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to run up front and compete for wins, so it was great for them to tell the kids about the importance of technology in racing,” said Larson.

In addition to having Larson and the team engineers on hand, the students got an up close view of the No. 42 Credit One Bank Chevrolet SS, complete with the school’s logo on the car.  Larson and CGR engineers spoke to the students about the technology associated with racing, how math and science play a role in building race cars, and the importance of STEM topics in motorsports. Credit One Bank also presented a donation of $25,000 to enhance the school’s science and robotics curriculum. Larson completed his visit by taking photos and having lunch with the students.

“This incredible donation from Credit One Bank will allow us to expand our STEM curriculum in amazing ways.  STEM is about so much more than learning science and computer programming—it really gives our scholars the opportunity to work together to solve complex problems,” said Dirk Bedford, principal of Meeting Street Academy, Charleston. “The expansion of the Lego Robotics team will allow for the kind of critical hands-on, minds-on experiential learning that teaches our scholars to think analytically and work logistically to find solutions.”

“Credit One Bank is proud to be associated with Meeting Street Academy. Our hope is that this donation will help instill a love of learning and technology in the students for years to come,” said Laura Faulkner, vice president of marketing communications, Credit One Bank. “By aligning our partnerships with Chip Ganassi Racing and NASCAR with Credit One Bank’s commitment to education and giving back, we created a special opportunity for all of us to come together and provide the kids of Meeting Street Academy a unique approach to learning.”

 About Credit One Bank

Credit One Bank, N.A. is a U.S. based national bank that specializes in credit cards. Credit One Bank is one of the largest and fastest growing issuers of credit cards in the industry and provides a broad spectrum of credit card products. Credit One Bank offers card members cash back rewards on eligible purchases, credit education tools, and free online access to their credit score each month.

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Target Pulls The Rip Cord With Ganassi Racing After 2017

Kyle Larson

Target has inform that it will withdraw their sponsorship dollars after a decades long relationship with Chip Ganassi Racing in borh NASCAR and IndyCar.  It was no great surprise that Target would completely leave Ganassi Racing since Target withdrew sponsorship from the IndyCar Series and Chip Ganassi Racing at the end of 2016.

It was a very logical deduction that, when Target announced their departure from Ganassi’s IndyCar operations at the end of 2016, they were pre-positioning themselves to completely withdraw from racing at the end of 2017.  Notwithstanding the business side of racing, it is still strange that Target has punched out of the racing sponsorship game.

Come February, it will be different not seeing the Target logo on the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 when NASCAR rolls into Daytona for Speedweek and unloads that hot rod!

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Kyle Larson Set To Launch A Racing-Themed Child’s Book

Kyle Larson & Owen Larson
Not long ago a 7-year-old was strapped into a racecar in advance of his first-ever dirt track event; ready to chase his dreams of making it to the big time. Fast-forward to the present day, and Chip Ganassi Racing driver Kyle Larson is now a top contender in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS). Larson, who was raised on racing, jumped at the chance to work on a children’s book to help teach kids about the sport he loves.

The picture book project, titled “Kyle Loves Racing”, is being created in conjunction with Chris Workman and Apex Legends, an established motorsports children’s book publisher. The hardcover book will be most appropriate for kids four years-old and older, and an accompanying coloring book will include a simpler version of the text that parents can read to younger children. The book is set to launch in the Fall of 2017.

 

For more information on the book, please see www.apexlegends.com.

 

NOTES OF INTEREST:

 

  • Inspire and Educate: The book will mix education with entertainment by showing kids the path Larson took to reach NASCAR through his various forms of racing, followed by an action-packed race sequence that closely mirrors Larson’s second MENCS win at Fontana earlier this year. Along the way, Larson’s illustrated likeness will teach kids important messages like never giving up and that winning isn’t everything.

 

  • Racing Writer: Workman has previously created children’s books that focused on the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, the Indianapolis 500, and INDYCAR driver Josef Newgarden.

 

QUOTEBOARD:

 

  • Kyle Larson, Driver No. 42 Target/Credit One Bank Chevrolet SS: “I was really excited a few months ago when the idea of doing a kid’s book came up, and I’m really looking forward to the finished product being released later this year. My parents got me interested in racing when I was really young, and along the way they taught me a lot of great lessons through racing that have helped me on and off the track. This book hopefully will be something that can help get kids excited about racing too and maybe even teach a few good lessons. I have quite a few young fans, so to be a part of a project that reaches out to those folks is pretty exciting for me.”

 

  • Chris Workman, Author & Illustrator, Owner, Apex Legends: “Kyle is the perfect guy to work with for a children’s book like this. Not only is he quickly becoming one of the top drivers in NASCAR, he is also actively involved in dirt track competition and is all about helping to promote racing at all levels of the sport. He’s a dad himself, and he understands the impact a book like this can have on kids.”

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Kyle Larson Has A Recommendation For Barney Visser

Christopher Bell
Does Kyle Larson have inside information on future plans for the No. 77 Furniture Row Racing Toyota?

With Erik Jones moving from Furniture Row Racing to Joe Gibbs Racing next season, the No. 77 is currently without a driver. And team owner Barney Visser has said the fate of the No. 77 is still to be determined, pending funding.

When discussing up-and-coming drivers on Saturday, Larson had a strong recommendation for that empty ride.

“I definitely think you have to have Christopher Bell at the top of that list (of young, talented drivers),” Larson said. “I got to see his potential a couple years before he ever made it to truck (NASCAR Camping World Truck Series).

“Seeing how good he is, I don’t know what the Furniture Row situation is, but I hope Bell gets to go in the No. 77. There are so many kids in dirt racing that deserve an opportunity to make it…at least get a shot at a solid K&N Series ride and then see how they can progress from there. It just comes down to funding these days.”

Bell currently is in his second full season with Kyle Busch Motorsports in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, after advancing to the championship race in 2016. He is also scheduled to run eight NASCAR XFINITY Series events this season for Joe Gibbs Racing.

“Young Money’s” recommendation to Barney Visser may be a little premature, but sometimes you have to go out on a limb and take a chance!

TIL NEXT IME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Denny Hamlin Had A Crustation Fixation!

Denny Hamlin
The relief was palpable!

In a thrilling finish fraught with suspense, and in a backup car after a Friday crash in practice, Denny Hamlin held off a charging Kyle Larson to win the Overton’s 301 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and hoisted up “the Lobsta”.

Before the race, Hamlin and the entire Joe Gibbs Racing organization was in desperation mode, but when Hamlin took the checkered flag .509 seconds ahead of Larson, the picture changed dramatically.

Hamlin secured a spot in the 10-race postseason playoff, which is now seven races away. In winning for the third time at The Magic Mile and the 30th time in his career, the driver of the No. 11 Toyota broke a personal 20-race drought, dating to last year’s playoff event at Texas Motor Speedway.

That was also the last time any of the four JGR cars had won a race.

“Yeah, it’s just a great feeling,” Hamlin said. “I know we’ve been getting better and better as the year goes on, but definitely needed a win for the organization and for myself and just kind of get some momentum going with the playoffs are coming up—so we’ve got to get going. Really this is awesome.

“We get in the playoffs, we get some playoff bonus points, and we’re ready to go now, so we’ve got to … we’ve still got a lot of work to do. I feel like we need a little bit more speed out of our cars to be competitive week in, week out, but, honestly, this is a great place to start.”

Taking the green flag for the final time from the fourth position in the outside lane at a track treated with traction compound before the race, Hamlin passed teammate Matt Kenseth for the lead on Lap 268 and pulled out to an advantage of more than 2.5 seconds before Larson began to run him down.

Kenseth had passed eventual third-place finisher Martin Truex Jr. for the top spot on Lap 261, one lap before Ryan Newman’s spin in Turn 2 caused the seventh caution and set up the final restart. Kenseth took right-side tires only under the yellow and was no match for Hamlin and Larson, who had fresh rubber on all four corners.

Kenseth held fourth ahead of Kevin Harvick over the closing 35-lap green-flag run.

Having started the race from the rear of the field after his qualifying time was disallowed because of a non-conforming rear decklid fin, Larson had a clear advantage in speed over Hamlin in the final run but couldn’t close to the bumper of the No. 11.

“I was catching him a couple tenths of a lap there, and then it seemed like when I got kind of close there, I don’t know, within four or five car lengths at the end, my lap times kind of evened off a little bit with him,” said Larson, who now has seven second-place finishes to go with his two victories this year.

“I started getting too tight on exit, and I couldn’t carry the speed on exit like I needed to. I’d gain a lot on him on entry, but I couldn’t keep the power down and keep the front turning on exit there that last run.”

Martin Truex Jr. led the first 78 laps and picked up his 14th stage win of the season in the first 75-lap segment, but a caution on Lap 67 for Cole Whitt’s blown engine divided the field on strategy. Truex stayed out under the yellow with 10 other drivers and collected the playoff point for the stage victory, while Kyle Busch led the rest of the field to pit road.

Busch inherited the lead when Truex and the rest of the cars that had stayed on the track came to pit road under caution at the end of the stage. The second stage belonged to Busch, who led 75 consecutive laps in picking up the playoff point.

But Busch lost three positions on pit road during the caution between the second and final stages, and two subsequent pit road speeding penalties derailed his winning chances. The driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota rallied from his second infraction to finish 12th.

Truex had a late-race issue, too, having to make an unscheduled pit stop for a flat right front tire on Lap 218 of 301. Though Truex later regained the lead, he was at a huge tire disadvantage and eventually lost the top spot to Matt Kenseth before Newman’s spin brought out the yellow flag for the final time.

Sunoco rookie of the year contender Daniel Suarez ran sixth in the No. 19 JGR Toyota, matching a career best. Clint Bowyer was seventh, followed by Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson.

Notes: Truex widened his series lead over second-place Larson from 34 to 38 points. … Joey Logano suffered a rear suspension failure and lost 33 laps in the garage while his No. 22 Ford was repaired, finished 37th and fell 52 points behind Kenseth for the final berth in the playoff. … Paced by Truex’s race-high 137 laps, Toyota drivers led 290 of 301 circuits. Dale Earnhardt Jr., who finished 18th led twice for 10 laps, once at the end of a cycle of green-flag pit stops, once by staying out on old tires for the final restart. Larson led one lap.

Check out the unofficial results of the Overton’s 301.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Kyle Larson Fails Post Qualifying Inspection At Louden

Kyle Larson

Inspection issues continued for Kyle Larson and his Chip Ganassi Racing team, whose pole-winning time was disallowed inFriday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series knockout qualifying session because his rear decklid fin was outside specifications.

Larson dominated Friday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series knockout qualifying session at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, posting the fastest lap in each of the three sessions. Because of the penalty, Larson will start last for the second straight race — the No. 42 failed to clear pre-qualifying inspection last week at Kentucky.

Martin Truex Jr. was declared the Coors Light Pole Award winner Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, taking the No. 1 starting position after Kyle Larson’s apparent pole-winning lap was disallowed.

Larson’s speed of 133.324 mph was thrown out after NASCAR officials discovered an unapproved rear deck fin on his Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet. That elevated Truex’s Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Toyota (133.077 mph) to the first starting spot for Sunday’s Overton’s 301 at the 1.058-mile track.

Larson, who had swept all three rounds of qualifying, will now start at the rear of the 39-car field.

Seven-time series champ Jimmie Johnson rose to the second starting spot after Larson’s penalty. Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray and Kasey Kahne completed the top five.

When it rains, it pours!

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Does Kyle Larson’s Versatility Keep Him Sharp?

Kyle Larson
Kyle Larson and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. come to NASCAR racing from similar backgrounds – specifically, open-wheel sprint cars.

And both Larson and Stenhouse have two victories so far this season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Larson at the two two-mile tracks (Fontana and Michigan) and Stenhouse at the two restrictor-plate superspeedways (Talladega and Daytona).

Unlike Stenhouse, however, Larson hasn’t curtailed his moonlighting in the open-wheel ranks. On Tuesday, between Monster Energy races at Daytona and Kentucky, Larson won his sixth straight sprint car race, taking the checkered flag at an event in Pennsylvania.

Stenhouse believes Larson’s versatility keeps him sharp!

“I think showing up and doing what Kyle has been doing in sprint cars is pretty tough to do,” Stenhouse said. “I had the opportunity back when I was racing sprint cars all the time to run Ohio Sprint Week like Kyle did this year and won three out of five races in 2006. That was a big task and a huge goal that I accomplished.

“For him to do it when he is not running full time sprint cars is impressive. Going to get around different cars and trying to adapt to different race tracks and changing conditions just keeps you sharp. It definitely brings some confidence to what you are doing over here. I don’t have everything in line to do that like Kyle does right now. He has a good system lined up that he has been working with the last few years, and it’s been paying off for him. I definitely think it brings confidence to both sides.”

These two drivers are part of the changing of the guard in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

The NASCAR Driver Demographics Are A Changing, My Friend!

Chase Elliott
The demographic in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series garage is clearly getting younger!

Forty-somethings Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart have retired from full-time driving. Dale Earnhardt Jr. will follow suit after this season. But as current superstars step away, younger counterparts already are making a significant mark in the sport.

Kyle Larson, 24, has won twice and leads the series standings. Austin Dillon, 27, Ryan Blaney, 23, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 29, are first-time winners this season, with Stenhouse doubling up at Talladega and Daytona.

Erik Jones, 21, and Daniel Suarez, 25, are leading contenders for Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors in NASCAR’s top division, and Chase Elliott, 21, already has 15 career top fives halfway through his second full season in the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.

“It’s neat to be a part of that younger group,” Blaney said. “That’s just nice to be part of the club. There are a lot of great young race car drivers that are coming up, from Chase and Larson and Erik Jones and Suarez. They’re doing a great job, and it’s just nice to be in that group.

“In the past few years a lot of drivers have retired who have been big for this sport – from Tony and Jeff – and with Dale Jr. retiring this year, there’s definitely going to be some change for sure. I would hope those fans still enjoy the sport and want to pick new drivers, but I don’t really feel like there’s any pressure to take the responsibility.”

On the contrary, Blaney feels he will be better served to remain true to himself, rather than try to emulate those who have preceded him in the sport.

“We’re never going to be a Tony or a Jeff or a Dale Jr.,” Blaney said. “We can be our own people, and hopefully the fans enjoy that, but we don’t really talk about it. I just feel like we go try to do our job, and hopefully the fans enjoy what we do, whether it’s on the track or off the track, and become interested.

“Like I said, I think it’s a pretty neat time for this sport right now. There are a lot of young drivers coming in with a lot of great drivers who have been around the sport for a long time who are still winning races and competing highly, and it’s a pretty neat combination. I think that’s exciting for the fans and exciting for the sport in general.

Every few years the torch gets passed to a new set of up and coming NASCAR super stars.  We are right smack dab in the middle of that changing of the guard that happens periodically in any sport.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!