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LEARNING ON THE FLY

FORT WORTH, Texas (October 27, 2016) - Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kyle Larson is one of a handful of drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series that are considered being the future of the sport.

Larson has had an interesting season as he won for the first time in his Sprint Cup career and qualified for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. For many drivers that would be a successful season, but Larson is looking to use this year’s performance to further excel when 2017 comes around.

“It was nice being in the Chase and having a shot at getting a championship,” said the 24-year old Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year in 2014. “Even though I wasn’t in the Chase the last two years, I was still racing in those races so you get an idea of what it is like, what you have to do and how everybody races. The racing changes a little bit as guys are a little more cautious at the start of the Chase. 

I wish we had had some better luck as I thought we were better than getting past the first round and then might have had a chance to get to the Round of 8. We would have probably needed some luck to advance to Homestead (for the championship round), but you never know what can happen in this sport.”

The one benefit of being out of the Chase is that it changes his mind-set with no worries about being conservative to collect points to advance to another round.

“I definitely feel like now (that I am out of the Chase) I can be aggressive again,” he said. “You get to where you get cautious when get around those that are still in the Chase because you don’t want to affect their chance to win a championship. We have some good tracks for us here in these last races so maybe we can get another win.”

One of those tracks will be Texas Motor Speedway for next weekend’s AAA Texas 500. It is a place the California native and North Carolina resident feels as if it is a “second home.”

“The infield scene (at Texas) is awesome,” Larson said. “It’s a younger kind of party scene unlike a lot of tracks. I get to see friends that I raced with in the Midwest and I feel it is a slight home race for me because of the familiar faces I see.”

He ranks Texas Motor Speedway among his five favorite tracks on the circuit, so he brings a sense of confidence when he enters through the infield tunnel. 

“I like going to Texas,” he Larson, who finished 14th here in April’s Duck Commander 500. “It’s a mile-and-a-half track with a worn-out surface where I can move around and find different lines. It has a lot of bumps and a lot of characteristics that make it different than anywhere else.”

Larson’s first career win came earlier this season at Michigan and it was not only a confidence booster but a momentum booster as well. 

“Anytime you get a win it helps your confidence,” Larson said. “After that win we did well at Darlington and Richmond. So getting three top-threes in consecutive weeks was pretty cool so the momentum was pretty huge after that win.”

With the pressure of being one of the younger faces of the sport and registering his first win, there was more talk of what he can become. That’s something Larson tries to deflect as much as possible. 

“There is pressure that goes along with people talking about you,” he said. “I have had to deal with that during my career so I think I have gotten pretty good at not paying a lot of attention to it. It’s all good stuff but I never want it to get into my head. This is a tough sport so it is easy and hard to get back up. I just try to go out and race and make it fun.”

About the author

The Texas Motor Speedway Media Relations Department is located on the 6th floor of The Speedway Club outside of Turn 1 of the speedway. 

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