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.