(Photo courtesy MRN)
Kyle Larson has a busy week ahead that will culminate with his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut on Saturday night in the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
After a disappointing finish (splitter bar broke) in the Nationwide race this past weekend in Kansas, Larson will kick off the week by continuing to test the Phoenix Racing #51 Sprint Cup car, as he gears up to make the transition full-time with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing’s #42 Target team in 2014. He’ll turn laps in a two-day test at Martinsville Speedway, a track where he will make his second career start on Oct. 27. Testing on Monday was cancelled because of impending rainy weather and moved to Tuesday and Wednesday.
“It’s a type of racetrack I’ve never run on,” Larson said. “It’ll be a good experience for me to learn before we go there next year. It’s going to be a pretty important track. I don’t know what to expect.”
Last Tuesday night, Larson got his first opportunity to work with his future crew chief during a test at Charlotte, but it didn’t start the way he would have liked.
“I missed a shift and blew the engine up,” Larson said. “But we changed engines and I was able to test for a couple more hours. I learned quite a bit working with Chris Heroy and all the guys on the #42 team.”
With Nick Harrison recently leaving Phoenix Racing, Jimmy Elledge came out of retirement and will be Larson’s crew chief for his Cup debut.
The Charlotte weekend will mark the first time Larson will pull double duty in Nationwide and Sprint Cup. Larson, who has 29 starts in the Nationwide Series, liked how the Cup car felt in the test.
“They drive similar. You just get down the straightaway a lot faster,” Larson said about the comparison between the Nationwide and Cup cars. “I think it’s more fun that way. The Cup car will suit me better just because it’s quicker and you can do more with throttle to help you out. I’m hoping to finish the race and get a decent finish.”
After testing is completed at Martinsville, Larson will attempt to make it back down to GoPro Motorplex in Mooresville, N.C. in time to compete in Joey Coulter’s Karting Challenge. Larson is scheduled to be a member of one of 22 four-driver teams that will participate in a two-hour endurance race to raise money for the Darrell Gwynn Foundation.
“I don’t know yet now – it depends on how late we get done with the test on Wednesday,” Larson said. “Maybe if we are done early enough I can jam back down there and make it.”
“I don’t know how good our team is. It’s a Spire Sports and Entertainment team. We’ve got Joey Dennewitz and he thinks he’s OK. We’ll see. We’ll probably just leave him in the car for a couple laps and pull him out. I haven’t been out there since the last Charlotte race, so I might be the worst guy on the team.”
More than 15 NASCAR drivers will compete in the race including Kenzie Ruston (K&N Pro Series), who will team with Motor Racing Network’s Alex Hayden, Kyle Rickey and Jeff Wackerlin. Fans are invited to the track to watch the race for a $5 donation to the Darrell Gwynn Foundation.
On Thursday, Larson will practice the Cup car at Charlotte before his first qualifying session later that night under the lights.
With only four Nationwide races left this season, Larson assessed his rookie campaign before heading to Charlotte, the site of one of his eight career top fives.
“It’s been up and down a lot,” Larson said. “The mid-part of the season was pretty good. I had eight top 10s in a row and now, it’s back to going up and down every other week it seems. I don’t know, I guess it’s been OK. I would like to be doing a little bit better, but a lot of it has been bad luck. (With) three second-place finishes and however many more top fives, I’m pretty happy with that.” (MRN)
Next week, Larson will be off from Nationwide Series racing, but Larson will return to California to race in the Trophy Cup sprint car race, Oct 17-19, at Thunderbowl Raceway in my birthplace, Tulare, CA. The three day race event at the Tulare Thunderbowl will be bringing in all the top sprint car drivers, both winged and non-winged, from up and down the West Coast for the finale of the season! Larson will be one of the highly favored drivers to win all three nights, not to mention that he is one of the most popular sprint car drivers on the West Coast!
All in all, this young phenom will be one busy race car driver, hop-scotching all over the country to fulfill his racing commitments! As I have written all season long, keep your eyes on Kyle Larson. His learning curve has been steep this year, however, the curve just got measurably steeper for next year when he steps up to the EGR #42 Target Chevy!
TILL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!