Larson prepared to take big step into Sprint Cup next year

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Whether you think he’s ready or not, Kyle Larson is coming.

The talented 21-year-old is set to complete an impressive rise from America’s short tracks to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, as it was announced earlier today at Atlanta Motor Speedway that he will take the controls of the No. 42 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet next season.

And while he knows of the fans’ debate over whether or not he’s truly prepared to ascend to NASCAR’s top series, he’s confident that he is indeed up to the task.

“As long as I’m out there, you know, living up to my expectations and [team principal owner] Chip’s [Ganassi] expectations, that’s all that really matters,” said Larson, who currently runs full-time in the Nationwide Series for Turner Scott Motorsports.

“I’m not one to pay attention to all the hype or the pressure that other people put on me. I just try and go out and do the best I can. I don’t see myself doing any different next year. I’m not going to push it harder than I think I can push it. I’m just going to try and do the best I can.”

Chip Ganassi is also convinced that Larson can work through the inevitable growing pains and eventually excel in Sprint Cup. In his mind, “nobody deserves a shot more than [Larson] does.”

“I think Kyle is the kind of driver, when he sees an opportunity in front of him, he takes it,” said Ganassi. “If that means it’s a win, hey, great. There’s no pressure for him to win his first year out. I don’t think there’s any pressure like that.

“I mean, the kid’s done very well in every step he’s made in his career so far. I see no reason why this should be any different.”

But it will still be a massive jump for Larson to make. Just last year, he was beginning his transition to stock car racing and now, he’s heading for its premier level of competition.

Ganassi indicated that he’ll be looking to get Larson some Cup starts toward the tail end of this season to prepare him for next year, which will also see him continue to compete in Nationwide events.

With a very crowded itinerary on tap for 2014, Larson will have to put his beloved sprint car racing on the back-burner. But the California native is willing to do whatever it takes to succeed in his new role.

“As far as next year goes, I know I’ll have to focus more on the Sprint Cup stuff,” said Larson. “I understand it’s probably going to be the toughest step in my whole career.

“I’m going to have to dedicate a lot of time to it and grow as a driver, do a great job for [sponsor] Target, for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing and make everybody there happy.”

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.