CHARLOTTE, N.C. — For fans of Kyle Larson’s dirt track racing endeavors, never fear: the Chip Ganassi Racing driver confirmed Wednesday during the final day of the NASCAR Media Tour that he has plans to race sprint cars and midgets again this year.
Larson, who won the opening race of USAC’s Indiana Midget Week last year and also competed in the prestigious Knoxville Nationals for car owner Paul Silva, said he is “allowed to run about 25 races” over the course of the season but admitted that his schedule this year will be different than in years past.
“I’ve got some races planned,” Larson added. “I’ve already ran three or four … but this season, it’s harder to find races.”
“Last year worked out perfectly, with the way the NASCAR season was and how the off weekends fell. I got to run six nights of Ohio (Sprint) Speedweek with the All Stars (Circuit of Champions), I got to run the Knoxville Nationals … but this year I’ll probably only get to run two nights of Speedweek. Maybe I’ll get to run Oskaloosa (Southern Iowa Speedway’s Front Row Challenge race) during Nationals week, but I won’t be able to run the Nationals.”
In 2016, a NASCAR off weekend fell during the week of the 5-Hour Energy Knoxville Nationals, but this year, the $150,000-to-win sprint car classic runs head-to-head with NASCAR’s second race weekend at Michigan Int’l Speedway.
Even despite the expected differences in his schedule, Larson has plans to combat the conflicts and still take in plenty of the racing that he cut his teeth on in his early racing days.
“I’ll probably do a couple nights of (Indiana) Midget Week again (as well). It’s just harder to find races, like I said. I’ll have to look for more mid-week sprint car races (to make it work).”
Before leaving the stage, Larson did reference a certain series owner that could help him slate some sprint car races into his schedule.
“I think we all know a guy that owns a series that I can drive some races in,” Larson quipped, hinting at Tony Stewart and the Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions.
Larson is coming off a winter season in which he competed several times in sprint car action at Australia’s Valvoline Raceway, narrowly missing out on a pair of victories but recording two podium finishes among his efforts.
“I only got to run three races while I was down in Australia,” Larson said. “One (of our planned starts) rained out … but I finished third in two of them and had a bad night in the other. Went from Australia to New Zealand for a couple days to try and race there, but ultimately got rained out as well.”
“I had a blast, though. At least for the Australia swing, my whole family was there … my mom, my dad, my sister, (wife) Katelyn’s (Sweet) mom and dad … her brother Brad was racing down there, too, so it was a lot of fun.”
Larson also competed in the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals for Keith Kunz Motorsports earlier this month, winning the Vacuworx Invitational Race of Champions early in the week but failing to make the championship A-Feature on finale Saturday for the first time since 2011.
He qualified for last season’s NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, finishing ninth in points after a win at Michigan Int’l Speedway in August.
Larson’s quest for his second-career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory will come in the season-opening Daytona 500, set for Feb. 26 at Daytona Int’l Speedway.
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 22-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
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