Uncertainty after being fired caused drastic life changes for Kyle Larson
Larson went into 2020 as one of the hottest drivers in the sport. He was also in a contract year. Larson could pick and choose where he wanted to go but he remained loyal to Chip Ganassi as he was the first one to give him an opportunity in the sport.
In April, Larson was abruptly fired from his full-time job in the NASCAR Cup Series following the use of a racial slur during an iRacing event. His life quickly flipped upside down and the stability all but evaporated.
In the coming weeks, Larson wasn’t sure if he’d ever race in NASCAR again. That uncertainty caused him to make drastic life changes, such as selling his incomplete dream home which was in the final stages of being built.
He then hit the road for high paying dirt races, winning 42 of them in 2020.
Over the years, Larson has stated that it was his dream to run with the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series. Showing unconditional love for the sport of dirt track racing left many NASCAR fans wondering if Larson even liked his day job.
Kyle Larson: NASCAR vs dirt
“Everybody has a passion for what they started out in and what got them to where they’re at,” Larson referred to dirt track racing.
“I didn’t hate my time in the Cup Series, at all. I enjoyed it, I wouldn’t have raced in the Cup Series if I didn’t have fun and love the challenge.”
“But, when you don’t get to do what you used to do. And, I’m at a young age too. Always, my passion was for sprint car racing.”
“One day when I’m done Cup racing, you know, I always wanted to have a long career in Cup racing. Whenever that day was done, a bucket list item of mine was to compete with the World of Outlaws.”
“This year, with the way everything kinda worked out, I’ve gotten to be a full-time dirt guy. It’s been fun to kind of reflect on the road that got me to Cup. And it’s made me want to get back even more.”
“To spend this year racing and traveling up and down the road in my motorhome, making memories with my family has been a lot of fun. But, it also is a good reminder that I loved what I was doing before and I can’t wait to get back.”
“I’m the one driving to the motorhome. It’s been stuff that I never thought I would do. I’ve been busy racing and staying sharp. I think I’ll be better than I was before.”
“If the schedules are similar to what they were this year, I think we’ll still get to race, quite a bit.”
Was there a moment when you didn’t want to return to NASCAR?
When Larson was suspended, he packed his bags and returned home to California. He then came back home a few weeks later and hit the road for the dirt tracks across the country.
“There was a lot of emotions, thoughts and questions in the very beginning. Like, ‘What’s my life going to be like now?’ “
“Because, if you are a sprint car driver, you don’t really need to be in North Carolina. I had thoughts like, ‘Where am I going to live? What am I going to do if I never get to race in Cup again?’ “
“But, that was very early on. Once I kinda got to work and saw there was a light at the end of the tunnel, my focus was back on, ‘What do I need to do to better myself?’ But, also get back to the Cup Series and prove a lot of stuff, personally as well as professionally. I feel like I’m definitely talented enough to be a Cup racer, I made it there once before.”
“I want to be a champion and win a lot of races. There’s a lot left to prove.”
Larson’s dream house sold
Soon after the NASCAR suspension, Larson listed both homes for sale. One he’s been living in since he first signed in NASCAR. The other was an ultra contemporary dream home in Lake Norman, North Carolina that was still under construction.
“We were almost done with building our dream home on the water. Obviously, that costs a lot of money,” Larson said.
“With everything that happened, to make myself and my family more comfortable… It was a tough decision that we had to make of selling that.”
“We listed both homes because I didn’t know where my life was going. But, we’re still in that same house. I love North Carolina. I’ve always said, even if I wasn’t racing NASCAR, I’d probably still live here.”
Larson kept the listing of the dream home active. He delisted the other home and continues to live there.
“When that turns into reality, you don’t really know what you’re going to do. I remember going home to California, just bored and looking at the computer, looking at homes out there and stuff.”
“Once things slowed down, you kinda calmed down and take a breath. You realize, North Carolina is home to me now. I love it here and I’ve got a lot of friends here. And if I want to get back to NASCAR someday, this is where I need to be.”
In 2021, Kyle Larson has found his footing. He’ll return to the NASCAR Cup Series, driving the No. 5 for Hendrick Motorsports.