Last year Chip Ganassi surprised us all by announcing that Kyle Larson would be moving up into the No. 42 Target Car after only one year in the Nationwide Series. Larson showed great promise in his one and only season in the Nationwide Series finishing eighth in the standings and it was expected that he would be great in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series but that it was perhaps too soon. Kyle Larson proved that wrong.
The 2013 NASCAR Nationwide Series Rookie of the Year, Kyle Larson is also the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup rookie of the year.
“It’s pretty special to me to win Rookie of the Year. I would say 80 maybe 90 percent of the people out there didn’t think we would be the Rookie of the Year at the end of the season and I don’t blame them. Just happy with how this season has gone.” Larson added, “I want to thank all my guys for making it so fun for me this season. Thank Target, thank Chip (Ganassi), Flex (Sabates), everybody on the No. 1 and No. 42 teams, everybody at the shop.”
On many occasions Kyle Larson was giving the NASCAR veterans a run for their money. He seemed like he could win at any time. He didn’t but he will.
Larson said, “I wish we could have gotten our win this season, but we challenged for a handful of them so that is pretty awesome. To win Rookie of the Year feels great.”
We have not had such a strong Rookie of the Year candidate in a long time. The season that Kyle Larson put together is reminiscent of those by Denny Hamlin in 2006, Kyle Busch in 2005, Kasey Kahne in 2004, Jamie McMurray in 2003, Ryan Newman in 2002 and Kevin Harvick in 2001 in their rookie years.
Larson finished his Sprint Cup rookie year with 8 top five finishes and 17 top ten finishes. He also finished the season 17th in the standing, the highest finishing driver who was not in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. He has shown that he has everything it takes to be a Sprint Cup Champion when he comes back next season.
Larson said, “I think just being competitive and challenging for top-fives and top-10’s most every week has been really good. There are a lot of moments that stand out, a lot of heartbreak moments as well. We will come back next season peel the rookie stripes off and try and go out there and win a race and get into the Chase and do what Kevin Harvick did tonight.”
NASCAR Sophomore driver Kyle Larson and the whole Target Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates team will start the 2015 season stronger than ever. Look for Larson to not only win a race or two but contend for the Championship.
Feature Photo Credit: Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing