Kyle Larson will make his 2021 debut in the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway after winning 12 times in 26 starts on the circuit last year.
Larson should be well prepared for Bristol because he took part in the inaugural Food City Dirt Race NASCAR Cup race March 29 on the high-banked half-mile oval in Tennessee. Larson was one of the favorites to win before his No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet was damaged in a Lap 54 crash after Christopher Bell spun directly in his path.
“Dirt racing is super important to me,” Larson said in a release. “It’s what I grew up doing. I’ve known it all my life.”
Larson, who will attempt the $25,000 main event Saturday with the Outlaws before heading to Talladega Superspeedway for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Sereis race, has continued to race on dirt in 2021 after joining Hendrick.
He won the Tommy Hinnershitz Classic at Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, Pa. in the All Star Circuit of Champions on April 16 and set quick time at Hagerstown (Md.) Speedway in a Late Model the next night before an engine problem sidelined him and kept him out of the main event.
Larson finished second in a Late Model Race at Tazewell (Tenn.) Speedway on April 3.
In 2020, Larson ran 97 features in various dirt track series, posting 46 wins in Sprint Cars, Midgets, Silver Crown and Late Models.
“It’s going to be ultra-fast racing for sure,” Larson said. “I mean you’ve got sprint cars at over 900 horsepower weighing 1,400 pounds vs. a Cup car at 3,500 pounds and around 750 horsepower. I think lap times will be crazy fast — like 12 seconds. I still think it’ll be fairly similar to other half-miles, though. I just don’t think the pace will slow off as much as it does at other places because you have the banking and the load to carry speed throughout the night.”
This will be Larson’s first start of 2021 with the Outlaws. Last year’s packed schedule of dirt track racing allowed him to keep his instincts sharply honed. At Bristol, he will compete against some of the greatest sprint car drivers in the field, including his brother-in-law and current points leader Brad Sweet.
“I think it’s way different because last year I was racing almost every day of the week, and we built a huge notebook and I was fresh as a driver,” Larson said. “Now, this is only my second race back in Sprint Car since November so there’s some rust there. The Outlaws are just so much more aggressive than the All Stars with double-file restarts and such. It’s the little things you have to perfect to be good with the World of Outlaws.”