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EGR Hands Wheel Of 42 Cup Car to 21-Year-Old Kyle Larson

| , RacinToday.com Friday, August 30 2013

Kyle Larson is moving up to Cup next year. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Christa L Thomas)

Earnhardt Ganassi Racing announced at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Friday that 21-year-old Kyle Larson will drive the team’s No. 42 Chevrolet next year in the Sprint Cup Series.

Team co-owner Chip Ganassi called Larson, who is a rookie in the Nationwide Series this year, a “special talent”.

Asked how special, Ganassi said, “Believe me, I’ve seen my share of young guys come along in motorsports. I would say that, you know, my first indication was at Daytona this year. I remember watching him in the race, hearing all the time how special he is, how special he is. He’s running around the Nationwide race 14th or 12th. I thought, What the hell is so special about this kid?

“Sure enough, at the finish line, he was right there. Of course, he was here and there at the finish line at Daytona this year, I should say. Be that as it may, that to me was special. I’ve seen that five or six, eight times now. He gives you the impression he’s dilly-dallying in the middle of the pack, not paying attention. Always at the end he’s where it seems to matter to be. That says something to me.”

Ganassi was asked if he thinks Larson could win races in his first season.

“I think Kyle is the kind of driver, when he sees an opportunity in front of him, he takes it,” Ganassi said. “If that means it’s a win, hey, great. There’s no pressure for him to win his first year out. I don’t think there’s any pressure like that.

“I mean, the kid’s done very well in every step he’s made in his career so far. I see no reason why this should be any different.”

Larson has had a highly successful career in midgets, sprint cars and other open-wheel race cars.

He has also had a debate raging around him – a debate among fans, peers and media about whether or not he is ready to graduate into Cup.

Larson, a native of California, said he’s heard the debate but, “It doesn’t bother me at all. I’d like to prove the people that don’t think I’m ready for it wrong. The guys that think I am ready, let them pump their chest out a little bit.

“Like I said, you know, as long as I’m running top 15, I’m happy with that. I don’t know if the fans and media people think that’s good enough. I think that’s about where I’ll set my goals for next year.

“Like I said, I’ve never let the pressure get to me of running well or doing whatever. Just always kind of sat back and raced, tried to do the best I could. I think that’s paid off for me in all the years I’ve been racing.

“I was always young. Starting off racing Sprint cars, I was the youngest to start off in California at 14 years old, did well, proved people wrong. I’m hoping I can do the same next year in the Cup Series and go from there.”

The No 42 car has belong to Juan Pablo Montoya for he last five years.

Ganassi has been piling up victories and championships in IndyCar and the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series. But Cup has been a bit of a struggle.

Though on-track improvement on the team – with Montoya and fellow driver Jamie McMurray – Ganassi was asked if bring Larson on board would be another step toward success.

“I think so,” he said. “You know, I think our cars, like I said earlier, have shown they can run easily in the top 5, top 10 on a pretty regular basis this season. For one reason or another we’re not there at the end.

“But I think plugging in a guy like Kyle, certainly the team is ready for that. Again, until you’re winning every race and you’re winning every championship, you know, you’re never really complete, your team is never really complete. I’m sure every race team in this garage area would like to tweak one or two things on their team from time to time.

“What you’d like to do and what you actually can do are two different things sometimes, whether it’s availability of people, resources. Lots of things come into play. It’s not like scripting a movie. It takes a lot of things to happen on one of these teams when you make changes or you anticipate improvements.”

| , RacinToday.com Friday, August 30 2013
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