Kyle Larson on future, World of Outlaws: ‘They’ve stuck behind me. That means a lot.’

Chris Owens/World of Outlaws
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Kyle Larson said he has no firm plans for where he’ll race the rest of the 2020 season, saying in a World of Outlaws release Tuesday he will “pick and choose” the races that make the most sense and will focus on sprint cars.

He also said in an MRN Winged Nation interview Tuesday that he has the next four racing weekends mapped out, but “past the next four weeks, I don’t know what races are even planned in the world right now. We just plan on hitting whenever races make the most sense to us.”

Larson, who was fired by Chip Ganassi Racing last month for using a racial slur in an iRacing event, said he plans to run several more NOS Energy Sprint Car Series after winning and finishing second on consecutive nights last week in Pevely, Missouri.

He also set a track qualifying record as the first Outlaws drivers in 33 years to crack the 10-second barrier at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55.

“I love racing with the World of Outlaws,” Larson, whose nine Outlaws wins rank him 44th on the all-time list, said in the interview with the Outlaws PR staff. “They’ve stuck behind me, too, throughout this. That means a lot. I always want to support them, especially with them sticking behind me.

“I can’t wait to get my journey started and see where my future goes.”

Larson remains indefinitely suspended by NASCAR but was approved to race by the Outlaws after completing sensitivity training. Kyle Larson Racing has been competing in the World of Outlaws since 2013.

The release mentioned that Larson, his wife, Katelyn, and their two children had been hanging out with Clint Bowyer and his family in Lake Ozark, Missouri (Larson will be racing when the Outlaws race May 29-30 at Lake Ozark Speedway).

There was no other mention in the release of future NASCAR races, however, for Larson, who said he had received thousands of congratulatory messages since his victory.

During a Tuesday interview with Motor Racing Network’s Winged Nation, Larson said he did want to race in the NASCAR Cup Series again. Larson told MRN hosts Erin Evernham and Steve Post that he had mapped out his races for the next four weeks.

“I’m just happy to be racing race cars right now,” he said. “It’s been weird watching the NASCAR stuff on TV, but I also hope that I’ll still be able to have another opportunity to race in Cup someday, so taking this time to watch and still study and stay relevant in my own mind. That way whenever an opportunity comes up, I’ll be ready to take full advantage of that opportunity and do a good job.”

Larson also credited the support of the sprint car drivers and fans with helping him manage.

“It’s been nice to hang out with my friends in the sprint car world just because a lot of drivers in the sprint car racing community are some of my best friends,” he said in the Winged Nation interview. “Getting to race with them and getting to hang out in the pit area or at the hotels or whatever has been a lot of fun. It seems like life is getting back to normal, and I’m enjoying it and enjoying traveling. We made our first long road trip as a family from Mooresville to Missouri this week, so that was fun. Just getting to do things we haven’t done in a long time

“It’s meant the world to me (to have fans’ support). Obviously, I’ve gone through a lot here lately and lost a lot of my partners, which I fully understand. But the ones who’ve stuck me, it just means the world to have that support from people and fans and friends and family.

“That’s what has really helped me get by and stay positive through this all. It’s been life-changing, no doubt. But the support of everybody has really helped get me by and Katelyn, and the kids don’t know what’s going on, but still just getting that support from everybody helps me stay strong and be a dad still. It’s tough, but the support. … It’s hard to be positive, but the support really helps.

Kyle Larson celebrates after winning at I-55 Raceway (Trent Gower).

Larson said he cried and was choked up upon returning to his team hauler after the record qualifying lap in Pevely and seemed happy to have found solace in dirt racing.

“It’s definitely something I love,” Larson said in the Outlaws release. “I really just love racing cars in general. I’m just happy I can still get out here and have some fun and be around my close friends.”

“It’s just been a crazy, rough handful of weeks. So, any small accomplishment like (the qualifying record) means a lot.”

Larson also heavily credited Paul Silva, who has provided the No. 57 he has raced in three starts since his return and also tunes the car.

“Just really proud of Paul and everyone who helps out on his team,” Larson said. “Everyone who has stuck behind us after my mistake there. It means a lot. I’m having a blast. Trying to have as much fun as I can anyways. Trying to keep my mind off things. To turn it around here now, it gives us confidence for sure.”

The win in Pevely, Missouri, was Kyle Larson’s ninth in the World of Outlaws (Trent Gower).

Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner on injured list; Musquin remains out

Shimoda injured
Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media

Bad news continues to come out of the Monster Energy / Pro Circuit Kawasaki team as they announced Jo Shimoda injured his shoulder in a practice session and will not mount up when the Monster Energy Supercross 250 East division opens in Houston, Texas on February 4. A timetable has not been given for Shimoda’s return, but a press release from the team references multiple weeks.

“I’m doing my best to focus forward on my return to racing,” said Shimoda in the release. “Our goal was to compete for the 250 Supercross Eastern Regional Championship and I know we had been doing the right work to make that happen. Unfortunately, this crash will cause me to miss the start of the season, but I still aim to be back on the track racing for wins before the end of Supercross.”

Shimoda is joined on the sidelines by teammates Seth Hammaker and Austin Forkner, who also suffered injuries in recent weeks.

The news of Hammaker’s sidelining came just two days ago. His wrist injury is sufficient to require surgery, so he too will miss multiple weeks. Hammaker was scheduled to compete in the 250 East division alongside Shimoda.

Forkner was involved in a Lap 1 crash in the 250 West season opener at Anaheim. Multiple injuries, including an ACL tear, will sideline him for the remainder of the season. He described the injury and its aftermath on Instagram.

Forkner will be relieved by Carson Mumford, but not before that rider’s wrist has healed sufficiently. He is scheduled to debut with Kawasaki in Oakland for the rescheduled Round 2 Supercross race on February 18.

Shimoda finished fourth in the 2022 Supercross 250 West division and was second in 2021 points in 250 East. In 2021, Shimoda won his first Supercross race at Salt Lake City. Last year, he scored one podium and six top-fives in nine starts.

Shimoda finished second in last year’s outdoor Lucas Oil Pro Motocross season, where he added two more SuperMotocross wins including the Unadilla Nationals that kicked off a four-race streak of first- or second-place results.

Kawasaki is not the only team facing injury. Red Bull KTM initially reported Marvin Musquin would be out for the San Diego round with a wrist injury and “maybe more”. This week it was announced he will miss this week’s Triple Crown race in Anaheim and “at least the next several rounds.”