Report: Elk Grove's Larson to race in NASCAR Sprint Cup

Published: Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 2C

Elk Grove's Kyle Larson, a rookie in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, is expected to be promoted to the major leagues of American motor sports – the Sprint Cup Series – at a news conference Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday that sources confirmed Larson will join Earnhardt Ganassi Racing in 2014. He will replace Juan Pablo Montoya, whose contract is not being renewed, on the two-car team. The other EGR driver is Sprint Cup veteran Jamie McMurray.

Larson, 21, already has proved to be a steely-nerved driver unafraid of tight racing packs.

In his Nationwide debut at Daytona International Speedway in February, he was involved in a frightening crash on the final lap. Tangled up with numerous cars, Larson's car became airborne and smashed into the catch fence, which separates the track from the stands. Several fans were injured when the front of Larson's car disintegrated, sending shrapnel flying, and at least one tire flew into the stands.

With his car torn in half, Larson calmly exited the protective cage and observed the damage. He was back in a new car in the next race.

Despite no victories this season driving for Turner Scott Motorsports, Larson has been considered the top prospect to move up to the Sprint Cup Series. He is in eighth place in the Nationwide points standings with six top-five finishes and 13 top-10 finishes in 23 starts.

In an interview with The Sporting News last week, Larson was flattered by the attention over possibly being Montoya's replacement.

"I didn't know that people had been asking the Cup guys if they thought I was ready or not yet," Larson said. "I thought it was really cool that a lot of people thought that I was speculated about going in the 42.

"I think that says I'm doing OK. I don't know if it will happen or not, but I'm not really worried about whether people think I'm ready or not."

Larson, a Japanese American, caught his big break by being accepted into NASCAR's Drive for Diversity program. Before that, he climbed up the racing ladder competing in midget cars and sprint cars around Northern California paved and dirt tracks.

– Victor Contreras

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