You know, when you’ve been around as long as I have, a couple of things happen… you get called “ma’am” and you are a little leery of athletes who find success quickly. Okay, other things happen but those two fit this blog, so go with it.
When I think of athletes who seemingly came out of nowhere onto a national stage, I think of MLB’s Clay Bucholz and his no-hitter in his second career start. Last year’s unexpected Olympic swimming superstar, Missy Franklin, a high school student who won four gold medals setting two World Records and two American Records along the way. The NBA’s Jeremy Lin, who went from sleeping on his sister’s couch to full-on Lin-sanity. The jury is still out on Missy Franklin, but Bucholz and Lin have both met with difficulty in maintaining their quick rise to success, which makes the experienced observer, me in this case, cautious. And now, there’s NASCAR Nationwide driver, Kyle Larson.
Before you start, I know Kyle hasn’t just “appeared” in motorsports. He’s been a champion in multiple racing series. He has caught the eye of some well-respected drivers, Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon to name a couple. He’s a development driver for one of the most storied race teams in motorsports, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. NASCAR has identified him as one of the NEXT 9 stars of the sport. But to the “National Stage”… Larson’s new, and I was, well, leery. (NOTE: I said “was”.)
He’s been hard to miss in his first four Nationwide Series races. Not only has he been hard to miss but it’s been hard to look away from his no-holds-barred style of racing. As Jimmy Spencer has said, it’s been hard to watch his obvious talent and still remember that he doesn’t have Stock Car experience. If you missed his second place finish to Kyle Busch in Bristol… allow me to show you what I mean.
If you haven’t been paying attention, it’s time to sit up and take notice, because I believe you might be, no check that, you ARE missing the beginning of something very special.
Kyle Larson was here testing this week. I had a chance to visit with him. He is easy to like. He is genuine, well-spoken and gracious. Yes, he called me “ma’am”. I shared with him that when we talk about him through our social channels, he already has an incredible following among our NASCAR-loving Texas race fans. When he heard that, he was incredibly humble.
He is excited to race here for the first time in a few days and is a big fan of our Victory Lane. I think that’s a good thing, because if he keeps this up, much to the delight of Texas race fans, he’ll be spending quite a bit of time there through the next 20 years or so.