Kyle Larson feels confident heading into rookie season despite critism

Photo Credit: Noel Lanier/

When it was announced that Kyle Larson would be moving up to the Sprint Cup Series in 2014, a lot of people were skeptical at first and thought that the young star was being moved up too quickly through the ranks.

For Larson, though, this is a criticism that he used to hearing as he has been told that with each step during his career, and each time it has worked out well for him.

“I think and I’m hoping this isn’t anything different,” he adds. “I’m ready for this season. I think we are going to have a strong year. The guys at Chip Ganassi Racing have built really fast cars. They have changed some things on the pit crew, more engineers and stuff like that. I think it’s going to be good for me.”

Larson feels that he will do fine this year based on the testing that they’ve done – based on the speed that they’ve shown, but also other aspects. During tests, Larson has been practicing fuel millage and pit stops so he is used to it.

“I think they have done a great job with me,” he continues. “I think we are prepared and hopefully we can get the Rookie of the Year and have a lot of good finishes this year.” 

Heading into his first race of the season with the Daytona 500, Larson will start the No. 42 Target Chevrolet in the 16th position following his finish in the second Gatorade Duel. Larson feels that he will be able to take the lessons he learned in his Duel to get a good finish.

“I was able to make a few moves, most that didn’t work so I learned from that,” he comments. “Sunday is going to take a lot of patience’s to log some laps there for the first half of the race, then to try to position yourself good for the end of it. We got a little front-end damage yesterday in that wreck. My Target guys made some repairs on that stuff. I’m sure it will be fine come Sunday. Just really looking forward to it and hope to get a good finish.” 

Larson picked up a lot of pointers, as noted, and one of those was that when he went to make moves in the Duel, a lot of drivers would bail on him. He understands that, though, as it is hard for any veteran to trust a rookie.

“You just have to try and be as smooth as you can and earn their trust. That is kind of what I tried doing last night,” he explains. “I felt like I kept it in a straight line most of the time. There was once where I got a little squirley, but for the most part I haven’t had any run in’s with any of the veterans yet. I think that is good that I haven’t done that and hopefully they will work with me come Sunday.” 

One person that Larson is expected to work with come Sunday is past Daytona 500 winner and teammate Jamie McMurray. McMurray won the last restrictor plate race last season at Talladega Superspeedway, and Larson noted that he has leaned on McMurray for advice.

“He actually said ‘don’t feel the need to help me out all the time because a lot of times it doesn’t work out and we both go backwards.’ When it comes down to the end of the race I’m sure we will work together or try to if we are around each other,” Larson shares. “He really just told me you have to be patient like everybody knows and pick and choose your right moves at the right times and try to go forward.” 

So far, the working relationship between the pair has gone well and Larson notes that McMurray is one of the easiest guys to talk to about things out of everybody that he has met.

“I’ve definitely been talking to him as much as I can whenever I have questions,” Larson adds. “He is always willing to give me a truthful honest answer. I think that is good for me. There will be times too this year where I’m sure he will have questions for me. If I’m faster than him in the weekend, I think we are going to work really well together and it’s going to be great for the both of us and great for the team.”

Larson will also be running the Nationwide Series race as he starts on the outside of the front row for that event beside teammate Dylan Kwasniewski.