Points Leader, Kyle Larson Feels Like He’s The ‘Last True Racer’ In The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Seriesby Camille Jones April 28, 2017 0 comments
RICHMOND, Va.– Kyle Larson enters his fifth race in a row as the leader of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points standings this weekend at Richmond International Raceway.
The driver of the No. 42 Credit One Bank Chevrolet has accumulated a win at Auto Club Speedway and six top-10 finishes over eight races, including four runner-up efforts. Larson, 24, looks to continue to improve with his Chip Ganassi Racing team, even as they hold the top spot in the standings.
Even after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Rookie of the Year in 2015, Larson did not get to Victory Lane until August of 2016 at Michigan International Raceway. His team has seen a surge of fast cars and strong finishes in the time since.
Is Chip Ganassi Racing ready to become a powerhouse organization in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series? It’s possible, but Larson understands the hard work involved in reaching that status in the sport.
“As far as turning into a powerhouse, it depends a lot on hard work and all that,” Larson said. “So, that’s all wishful thinking that hopefully it will turn into kind of like what Jeff Gordon and Hendrick Motorsports was when he first started.”
Larson continued and said, “So, I’m very thankful that Chip signed me a few years ago without any funding, because I had no funding, and moved me up the ladder quick. It all kind of worked out perfect with me and my situation. So, I’m very loyal to Chip. I love racing for him. It’s been especially fun this year because we do have fast race cars. So, yeah, I would love to be with Chip the rest of my career. We’ve just got to continue to keep working hard and keep building fast race cars.”
As NASCAR veteran Dale Earnhardt, Jr. announced his retirement will come at the end of the 2017 season, the hunt for the next big stars of the sport continues to become more apparent. Larson’s record speaks for itself, but his connection to the entire world of motorsports speaks even louder.
While many drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series prefer to focus their time and energy into their career at the pinnacle of stock car racing, Larson prefers to return to the dusty dirt tracks he grew up racing on and jump behind the wheel of any car he has the opportunity to race.
“I think NASCAR fans understand grassroots racing and stuff,” Larson said. “There are other drivers at the Cup level that go on their off-weekends and run other types of racing and stuff. 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. 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. I just feel like I think like (Mario) Andretti and (AJ) 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.”
As some of the current generation of racers begins to retire or consider a future beyond racing, it will be up to the young drivers in the sport to lead the way as a new generation of drivers fill the void. The change in drivers may also bring a change in fan-base.
“I think the next four or five years, NASCAR is going to go through an exciting change,” Larson said. “The average is going down and I think new sponsors will hopefully be coming in and new fan bases because we are Millennials, and that’s kind of who we need to get in our sport. So, it’s going to be fun to have all of us work hard and try to build our brands and build the sport as well.”
Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 will broadcast live on FOX and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 2 p.m. ET.
Photo Credit: Camille Jones/TheFourthTurn.com