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.”