Denny Hamlin and more will fly with Kyle Larson from Michigan International Speedway to Knoxville Raceway today
Kyle Larson starts 3rd tonight in the dirt race that pays $150,000 to the race winner
Kyle Larson is pulling double duty yet again. He’s running this weekend at Michigan International Speedway in addition to the Knoxville Nationals.
Kyle Larson will start 3rd. Larson’s sponsor is bringing in the jet and they’ll fly from Brooklyn, Michigan to Knoxville, Iowa. Seven people are coming from the NASCAR track to the dirt track.
Who’s going to the Knoxville Nationals from MIS? Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin, Kasey Kahne, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Kyle Larson is the only one of them that will run the race on the half-mile dirt track.
“Iowa’s been good,” Kyle Larson stated from the MIS media center. “We were able to win Monday night at Oskaloosa Speedway. And we had a really good prelim on Wednesday.”
“We’ll start 3rd. Brad Sweet and Donny Schatz will be the two guys to beat. But, I feel like we’re close and it’s a long race. It would be neat to win that deal.”
Last year, Kyle Larson ran the same schedule. Larson returned from the dirt track in Knoxville, Iowa and took the win in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series event the next day.
Did you have to talk him into it again this year or did the win last year solve that?
In 2017, Larson had to talk his NASCAR team owner into allowing him to run. Chip Ganassi only allows a certain number of dirt races for Larson each season. In addition, non of them are allowed Thursday-Sunday.
However, Ganassi made one exception, the Knoxville Nationals.
“I didn’t really have to talk to Chip about it. Last year, we got back to the race shop on Monday, after the Michigan win. That was when Steve Lauletta was still there. We was already talking about plans for next year.”
Steve Lauletta was the former president of Chip Ganassi Racing. In February 2018, he stepped down from the position and remained on the team as a consultant.
“I kinda figured at that time that it working out good enough that I could do it. Very thankful to have an owner that lets me have fun. Especially on a weekend like this. You know, let me go participate in the biggest sprint car race in the world, the night before I’m on track in the Cup car.”
“You don’t see any owners really doing that. Tony Stewart would kinda be the only guy. Kasey in his situation, I guess he can too. Just very thankful for everything that Chip does. He knows it’s important to me.”
How does the traveling work? Is Chip Ganassi going to Knoxville?
“No. I don’t think Chip’s going. I don’t even know if he’s going to be here this weekend.”
“Logistics stuff, I guess it started after Watkins Glen. Kasey, Ricky and I all flew there after Watkins Glen. Which has hectic because Kasey raced on Sunday night at Knoxville.”
“My car owner, Paul Silva didn’t want to do that. He didn’t know if we’d make it in time to qualify. Kasey, we landed there and he had to get escorted straight to the infield. He missed hot laps but got to qualify.”
Paul Silva is the general manager for Kyle Larson Racing.
“We hung out there all week. Kasey and I flew here from the races last night. I think I got to my motorhome at 2:30 in the morning. Then, slept until about 11. So, that was good.”
“On Saturday, our day’s done so early [in Michigan] that I think we’re leaving at 2:30 or 3pm from here to go to Knoxville. Dirt racing doesn’t get started until 7, so it’s no rush.”
“It will be a late night. No appearances on Sunday. So, I can sleep in again. It will be good.”
On Wednesday, Kyle Larson’s dad stated that the Knoxville Nationals is number one on the bucket list over any race.
“The Knoxville Nationals is No. 1 on the bucket list. Over any race,” Mike Larson said Wednesday. “For sure.”
Do people understand that or does it still make waves?
“Oh no,” Kyle Larson responds.
“It makes plenty of waves still. I feel like I need to avoid this question before I make NASCAR or some of my fans mad,” Larson says with a laugh.
“I’ll just avoid answering that. Because I’ve been through this before, a lot. I’m learning, just more and more to keep my mouth shut.”
Do you see NASCAR adding another dirt race?
“I guess I could see it happening. It seems like we’re to the point where NASCAR is trying to do a lot of things to spice things up.”
“I could see it happening. I’ve said a lot that I would like to see it not happen. The one truck race we have on dirt makes dirt feel special. I feel like it would loose it’s prestige if we saw it on dirt too much.”
“I personally would not like to see it happen. But, you never know what’s going to happen.”
Kyle Larson starts 3rd in his sprint car tonight in Knoxville. On Sunday, he will start 17th at MIS.