He still has a passion for NASCAR, which is lost on some fans
Kyle Larson heads back to the NASCAR world this week. This is after a week off. Which for Larson isn’t a week off at all, it’s a week long marathon of dirt races.
On his drive to Wayne County Speedway, 25-year-old Kyle Larson engaged in a twitter Q&A. @WorldofOutlaws presented a great question. They asked, “When are you running full-time with the Outlaws?”
Larson responded, “Before I’m 40.”
Kyle Larson’s simple reply caused a bit of a backlash from the NASCAR fanbase. They’re upset. Not of all them of course. But, some don’t feel like Larson doesn’t have the same passion for the NASCAR side of his racing career.
What are you having trouble getting across when you talk about you passion for dirt racing and NASCAR?
“I don’t know, I just think maybe some people aren’t quite as open minded, maybe,” Kyle Larson stated from the Sonoma Raceway media center.
“It’s like they read it as if I said in two years from now that I wanted to do it. 15 years from now, that will be 20 years in Cup. That’s a long time.”
Kyle Larson is in his sixth season in the MENCS field, fifth full-time. Jeff Gordon retired from NASCAR at age 43.
“I think Jeff Gordon spent about that much time in this sport. Maybe I don’t do the best job in the world of talking about how much I love NASCAR as much as I do Sprint Cars.”
“But, I do. You know, I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t love NASCAR racing. I enjoy Sprint Cars. I talk about Sprint Cars a lot just to open people’s eyes to that style of racing. Cause it’s a great form of racing. And so is NASCAR.”
“I just want fans to be fans of motorsports. It’s not just NASCAR and not just Sprint Cars. I’d like to see everybody to just enjoy all of racing. I think that’s what I do. Maybe I don’t do a good job at it. But, I enjoy racing all types of vehicles.”
“Most fans get it. But, some fans aren’t quite open minded enough.”
Did Chip Ganassi have a reaction to these comments from his driver?
“No not yet. I’ll see him this weekend. I’m sure he’ll give me some crap about it.”
“But, I think he’s good enough at math to know that’s a long time from now.”
Meanwhile, NASCAR has been in a steep decline. The races are more competitive than ever but the attendance is still trending in the wrong direction.
“It’s hard not to notice the empty seats in the stands. But, it’s not just NASCAR. You could look at any sporting event. There’s just so many other ways to consume the event. You don’t have to be here LIVE to be watching it. You don’t even have to be watching it on TV to be paying attention to the race.”
“I think the way that some people might look at ratings, it might look worse than it really is. I don’t think we’re at a bad spot.”
“NASCAR and the tracks are always trying to figure out ways to get more fans back to the race track. I don’t pay attention to a whole lot of other sports. But, I don’t feel like other sports are working as hard as what NASCAR does, to grow their fanbase.
Kyle Larson names NASCAR drivers who regularly run dirt: Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell, Kasey Kahne, Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Tony Stewart, Kevin Havick.
In recent years, there’s been a huge push to help grow the grassroots side of the sport. Kevin Harvick who sits on the NASCAR drivers’ council has pushed to make several thinks happen for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series side of the racing ladder.
On the dirt side, there’s a full list of NASCAR drivers that show up to help facilitate a full house at the dirt track.
“It is huge for helping to grow motorsports in general. I love doing it. I don’t feel obligated to go race all that stuff to make motorsports bigger. But, I know when I’m doing it that I’m doing something positive for racing. That gives me some extra enjoyment out of it.”
“I love going to the dirt track and hearing, “You and Bell… You’re the reason I’m watching NASCAR again.” That makes me feel really special. It makes me feel like I’m having an impact when I’m going to race that stuff.”
“I think here recently you’re seeing a huge push to help grow grassroots racing. We’ll just keep having fun and doing what we’re doing.”
Kyle Larson is allowed 25 dirt races by his NASCAR team owner Chip Ganassi. There was a rainout on Wednesday in the dirt car, does that count toward the 25?
“I hope it doesn’t count. That’s the first time I’ve had to deal with that where it gets rained out before the feature. But, I don’t think it counts.”
Are you running the new dirt track at Indianapolis?
“I already had the Indy race on my schedule.”