Larson on hectic January schedule: “You just get used to it”

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Few NASCAR drivers have banked as much seat time this offseason as Kyle Larson, in an offseason where actual seat time, and track time, is so precious.

Chip Ganassi’s top NASCAR prospect, now set to enter his second year in the Sprint Cup Series, has been on active both on dirt and in sports cars already this month.

He won night two of the Cocopah Showdown in Somerton, Ariz., earlier this month, and has also won preliminary rounds and just come off a seventh place finish in the final of the Chili Bowl in Tulsa. In both cases, that’s him running on dirt and keeping in touch with his roots.

Meanwhile his other running has occurred in the Roar Before the Rolex 24 test and now this weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona itself, the season-opening round of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season.

Larson will share one of Ganassi’s Riley-Fords, the No. 02 “all-star” entry with his NASCAR teammate Jamie McMurray and Ganassi IndyCar drivers Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan.

Larson, who’s still only 22 and recently a new dad (see pic below) is still in just “go with the flow” mode for all his travels this month, before the NASCAR season starts up.

“I don’t know how I handle it,” Larson laughed, while speaking to MotorSportsTalk at the Roar test. “I’ve done it the last few years, so you’re racing every week. It’s not hard to go from Arizona to here (Florida) to racing a different car. You just get used to it.”

He may be used to the schedule but Larson, who will make his second Rolex 24 start this week, still is adjusting to the higher downforce, higher horsepower Daytona Prototype he’ll be sharing for the race.

“I didn’t have much (confidence) last year and I still don’t,” he admitted, even though he was better on track than he lets on. “Hopefully this year, I’ll automatically feel better.”

When it does come time for showtime on the Cup side – the Cup season begins next month, but after a winter without testing – Larson is optimistic he’ll be able to handle the upcoming changes coming to the Cup cars, mainly the horsepower reduction there.

“We did get to use our testing (late last year) to test our new packages,” he said. “We have laps on it. We understand how it is. That allows our guys to get some data and work on it. We should be OK.”

Larson should be poised to win his first Cup race this year in this, his second season. The No. 42 Target Chevrolet crew, led by crew chief Chris Heroy, should remain largely intact.

Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, stats

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona overall results were all streaks: two consecutive victories in the endurance classic for Meyer Shank Racing and three in a row for Acura.

And Helio Castroneves became the second driver to win three consecutive Rolex 24s and the first to win in three straight years (Peter Gregg won in 1973, ’75 and ’76; the race wasn’t held in ’74 because of a global oil crisis).

Starting from the pole position, Tom Blomqvist took the checkered flag in the No. 60 ARX-06 that led a race-high 365 of 783 laps with co-drivers Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Colin Braun.

RESULTS: Click here for the finishing order in the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona l By class

Meyer Shank Racing now has two Rolex 24 victories and the 2022 championship since entering the premier prototype category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2021.

“I think what’s so special about this team is we are a small team compared to some of our opponents, but the atmosphere, the way we work, enables people to get the best out of themselves, and I think that’s why we’re such high achievers,” Blomqvist said. “I think there’s no egos. It’s a very open book, and that just enables each and every one of us to reach our potential. I think that’s why we’ve achieved so much success in really a short time at this level of competition.”

It’s the 16th IMSA victory for MSR.

The 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona marked the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category that brought hybrid engine technology to IMSA’s top level.

In other categories:

LMP2: James Allen passed Ben Hanley on the final lap and delivered a victory in the No. 55 ORECA by 0.016 seconds. It’s the second IMSA victory for Proton Competition, which last won at Sebring in 2012. It was the first Rolex 24 victory for Allen and co-drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Fred Poordad and Francesco Pizzi.

GTD Pro: Cooper MacNeil won in the last start of his IMSA career as the No. 79 Mercedes-AMG GT3 scored the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for WeatherTech Racing and the team’s fourth career victory.

MacNeil, who co-drove with Maro Engel, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella, earned his 12th career victory and first at the Rolex 24.

“Winning by last IMSA race is tremendous,” MacNeil said.

GTD: The No. 27 Heart of Racing Team delivered the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for Aston Martin, which has been competing in endurance races at Daytona International Speedway since 1964. Drivers Marco Sorensen, Roman De Angelis, Darren Turner and Ian James (also the team principal) earned the victory in the English brand’s 13th attempt.

It’s also the first Rolex 24 at Daytona win for Heart of Racing, which has seven IMSA wins.

LMP3: Anthony Mantella, Wayne Boyd, Nico Varrone and Thomas Merrill drove the No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08 to victory by 12 laps for the team’s first class win in IMSA.


STATS PACKAGE FOR ROLEX 24 HOURS OF DAYTONA:

Fastest laps by driver

Fastest laps by driver after race (over the weekend)

Fastest laps by driver and class after race

Fastest lap sequence

Lap chart

Leader sequence

Race analysis by lap

Stint analysis

Time cards

Pit stop time cards

Best sector times

Race distance and speed average

Flag analysis

Weather report

NEXT: The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will resume with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 18 with coverage across NBC, USA and Peacock.