Thursday, April 04, 2013 11:32 am
Ganassi wants to take it slow with Kyle Larson
By JENNA FRYERAP Auto Racing Writer
Kyle Larson tweeted the news himself: "Screwed up on the start," he wrote late Wednesday about his outing at Mooresville Motorplex Karting in North Carolina. His botched start in an extracurricular go-kart event dropped him into the mid-teens and he finished sixth.
Larson, who has been praised as a potential superstar by Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Kasey Kahne, is back to work crisscrossing the country racing anywhere he can during a long break in NASCAR's second-tier Nationwide Series. He spent last weekend at home in California racing at Antioch and Calistoga in Outlaws and 360 sprints, was back in North Carolina to run his kart at MMX on Wednesday, then was off again Thursday to Sacramento to repeat last week's schedule at Antioch and Calistoga again.
Next week it's back to MMX for karting and then on to Texas Motor Speedway to resume racing in the Nationwide Series, where he's got two top-10s and is ranked seventh in the standings through five races. The 20-year-old has raised expectations that he'll be magical every time he gets in a car.
So far, team owner Chip Ganassi hasn't been disappointed.
"He seems to accept everything that you put in front of him," Ganassi said.
But Ganassi is being cautious. It is early, after all, and Larson has just five races with Turner Scott Motorsports under his belt. He said he also thinks NASCAR's top stars could go easy on lavishing the praise on Larson.
"Let's see the guy go through. I think the guy, he's a great kid. He comes from a nice family. We'll give him everything it takes to keep his career rolling," Ganassi said. "For those of us who have been around racing for longer than five years, we've heard all these things before about certain drivers. If these guys like Stewart and Gordon and Kahne wanted to do him a favor, they'd be a friend to the guy and not be blurting all this stuff in the media and putting more pressure on him. Let the kid be a kid."
Just how long Ganassi actually allows Larson to be a kid is another question. He holds options for next year on both Jamie McMurray and Juan Pablo Montoya, who sit 16th and 30th in the Sprint Cup standings right now. His loyalty to Montoya is unquestioned, but he's admittedly frustrated that the results still aren't there as the duo heads into their seventh season together in NASCAR.
"We continue to work with him, try to get the most out of him," Ganassi said of Montoya. "If I thought there was a quick fix, or if I thought there was something we're doing or . we've put people around him, put other people around him and put other people around him."
If Ganassi has something already in mind for Larson as a potential replacement to one of his Cup drivers he isn't saying. He initially joked there was no firm plan for Larson, "we just, every Monday morning, we just throw a dart at the board," before getting serious about the importance of going slow with his young driver.
"I am not sure that would be prudent to have that kind of plan in place," Ganassi said. "It wouldn't be prudent for his career, it wouldn't be prudent for my team, it wouldn't be prudent for a lot of things and a lot of reasons. But we do have a long-term contract and if those opportunities come along we would certainly take a look at them."