Kyle Larson has a little fun with teammate Jamie McMurray during the rain delay at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Kyle Larson breaks down Rico Abreu’s transition from sprint cars to NASCAR and Abreu discusses his first trip to Bristol Motor Speedway.
Kyle Larson talks about would it would be like to get his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win while in the media center at Richmond International Raceway.
Doctors hold Larson for more testing following fainting spell
Kyle Larson promotes the new #TakeTheLeap campaign from AXE White Label.
Driver earned career-best second-place finish in this race last year Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live FONTANA, Calif. -- Ending his first full-time season in the Sprint Cup Series as the 2014 Sunoco Rookie of the Year with eight top-fives and 17 top-10 finishes along with one Coors Light Pole Award, Kyle Larson is still searching for more -- a win. It was last year's Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Spedway when the California native's racing abilities truly began to shine. Rightfully earning the admiration of NASCAR veteran Kyle Busch , Larson came up second to Busch in the 2014 Auto Club 400 after fighting hard in the final laps. Busch was able hold Larson off as the Joe Gibbs Racing driver crossed the finish line .214 seconds ahead of the then-rookie, who had won the NASCAR XFINITY Series race just one day earlier. Now, with Busch being sidelined for injuries sustained in this year's opening XFINITY Series race at Daytona, it begs the question -- what driver will be holding off Larson for the lead this year? "There's a lot of good cars and (Kevin) Harvick has definitely been strong so far this season, so I'm sure he'll be the one to beat," Larson said on Friday at the Auto Club Speedway . Though 2014 Sprint Cup Series champion Harvick has displayed nothing but dominance so far this season, Larson has already earned himself two top-10 finishes and will start fifth in the field for Sunday's Auto Club 400 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX). "I like this place," Larson said. "It's tricky because of all the seams and it's got a pretty worn out surface and you have to search around for all the grip, but it seems to suit my driving style." The 22-year-old will get plenty of practice on the oldest asphalt on the Sprint Cup Series schedule when he runs in Saturday's Drive4Clots.com 300 (4 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1), the race that gave Larson the first XFINITY Series win of his career. But Larson's run in Saturday's XFINITY Series race will see him start in a backup car as the No. 42 driver spun out in opening practice after Mike Bliss dropped oil on the track, forcing Larson to make the move. "We should be OK," Larson said. "I got to make one lap in (the backup car) afterward and it felt fine so hats off to my guys for getting me back out there in that practice to make one lap, that gives me some extra confidence to qualify." Once the XFINITY Series race is over, Larson will have one thing on his mind: proving that he's the car to beat in Sunday's race. Larson's crew chief Chris Heroy jokingly recalled a request Larson made after coming up short to Busch last year. "He came on the radio and asked me if he could do a burnout," Heroy said after the 2014 Auto Club 400 . "I told him, 'Next time, if things work out.'" Perhaps Larson's "next time" is now. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Between on-track success and off-track prosperity, Sunoco Rookie of the Year in a great place RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today In putting together one of the most dramatic and impressive Sprint Cup Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year seasons in recent memory, 22-year old Kyle Larson recognizes there are plenty of options for defining moments and highlight reels. For some, it will be his last lap tangle with Ryan Newman in the next to last race of the season, which set the championship contender field. Needing one more position on track, Newman pulled his Chevy alongside Larson's and sent the rookie into the wall derailing an 18th top-10 run, while the veteran Newman crossed the finish line in precisely the place he needed to advance to the Chase Championship Round. "I didn't know 100 percent if he needed that spot that I was in,'' Larson said between practices at Homestead-Miami Speedway last weekend. "I got loose off (Turn) 2 and they said he had a run and I thought well, he might try something crazy, so I left him a lane and I don't know if I should have done that and he was able to get to me and hit me. "Anybody would have been upset, but I got over it pretty quick because I knew what was at stake. That was a very important spot for him to get." What Larson himself considers his defining moment may surprise. It's not the blazing runner-up finish at Auto Club Speedway in his native California in March -- only five races into the schedule. And it's not even his runner-up showings in New Hampshire and Kansas during the Chase. "The best feeling I had this year was probably when I finished fourth at Watkins Glen, (New York)," Larson said, taking a moment to mentally rewind and really think through the question. "I didn't grow up racing on road courses and I struggled really bad the whole practice and qualifying that weekend. So then to end up fourth, which was way, way better than I thought I was going to be -- I was super pumped up about that." The fact that Larson had so many good performances in the No. 42 Target Chevrolet to choose from is not lost on the young talent. Neither is the fact that few picked him to win the 2014 Sunoco Rookie of the Year title before the season started. The Elk Grove, California native didn't come from a racing pedigree, nor had he won a NASCAR development series title. Larson earned his seat showing natural talent and the can't-miss potential that have made him one of NASCAR's biggest young stars in only one full season in the Cup ranks. Like his racing heroes Gordon and Tony Stewart , he came up through the open-wheel ranks of sprint cars and midgets. Team owner Chip Ganassi signed the NASCAR Drive for Diversity grad and Larson realized this was his big opportunity to make it in stock cars. He delivered with two pole positions, three runner-up finishes among his eight top-five showings and his 17 top-10s was more than eight of the 16 Chase drivers. "Really to start the year everyone thought I was going to fail,'' Larson said. "At least three-quarters of the people sitting in the media center probably did. Then I think they realized after the first handful of races that our team was capable of running well and the bar got raised and raised more throughout the year. "My expectations going into the start of the season were top-15 every week would be great and that quickly turned into wanting top-10s every week and lately top-fives and wins are the goal." And he's not the only one who expects great things of the No. 42 team. And expects them soon. The opinion shifting began early and earnestly. The bar has only risen. "I feel we could win every week,'' Larson said with a big grin. "I think (teammate) Jamie (McMurray) feels the same way, all our guys feel that way and Chip definitely feels that way, so his expectations are a lot higher. "That's good though. It's nice coming to the race track every week and knowing your car is going to be fast. In years past, this team maybe hasn't felt like that every week, but now they're in a good spot and I'm definitely glad I got in here when I did." Larson continued, "The best thing to happen to me is being with a really good team that's excited to have a new driver. "I think we're capable enough with more experience and good tracks at the beginning of the year that I'd like to get a win early in the season and know you're going to be in the Chase. … and then you don't have to stress out every other race." Before he suits back up, however, Larson's amazing year will get even better. He and longtime girlfriend Katelyn Sweet are expecting their first child in late December, a son they will name Owen Miyata -- the middle name a nod to Larson's Japanese roots. Miyata is Larson's mom Janet's maiden name and giving it to Owen ensures it will carry on in the family. "As much as I've had a blast racing, I can't wait for the offseason for all the exciting things coming, the baby, the new house -- we just finally stayed in it one night this week,'' Larson said, clearly enjoying the anticipation. Moving in is exciting. Just ask @Katelyn_Sweet pic.twitter.com/DUnX6SaeON — Kyle Larson (@KyleLarsonRacin) November 19, 2014 "There's been a ton that's happened and it's all been great stuff. I've had great years results-wise, but the baby, the house, first year in Cup probably never been a year as exciting as this.'' MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Comparing Larson to some of the all-time greats Editor's note: Graphics by Jenna Wagner Kyle Larson completed one of the best rookie season in premier series history in 2014. While Victory Lane was just out of grasp for the 22-year-old, his overall numbers were comparable to some of the greatest drivers in NASCAR history. Take a look below to see how Larson compares to Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon and Richard Petty in their rookie years, and then use the second graphic to see how those three NASCAR legends performed in their second year -- perhaps a comp that Larson can target in 2015.
Larson : 'We've had fast race cars ... we just haven't caught the breaks we needed to' Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live LAS VEGAS -- Tucked in on the far side of the diamond-shaped Las Vegas Motor Speedway garage, a good hike away from the busy vibe and buzz of the entryway on the opposite side of the paddock, sit the two Chip Ganassi Racing transporters of drivers Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray . A few garage stalls away from the Ganassi teammates' Chevys are the cars belonging to Sunday's Kobalt 400 pole-winner Jeff Gordon and three-time Cup champ Tony Stewart . Four teams that have been fast and been in contention in 2015, but that have no results to show for it. Yet. Gordon, who won the Daytona 500 pole and was the fastest qualifier again for Sunday's race, will instead start in the rear of the field in a backup No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet after being collected in a crash during the final minute of Saturday's final practice. He has finished 33rd and 41st in the first two races of his final full-time season and wrecked in both. Stewart, who showed good speed at Daytona and will start 12th Sunday, has finishes of 42nd and 30th for the year. And the Ganassi teammates of Larson and McMurray -- two of the hottest drivers in the closing races of the 2014 season -- have picked up right where they left off: Fast. Both ran up front during the Daytona 500 and both advanced to the final round of qualifying last week at Atlanta. McMurray and Larson were 1-2 in the second round of qualifying on Friday here in Las Vegas, advancing to the final 12 of time trials again. It's the finishing that's at issue. Larson -- who will start fifth Sunday in his No. 42 Target Chevy -- has finishes of 34th (Daytona) and 26th (Atlanta). McMurray -- who will start 10th in his No. 1 Cessna Chevrolet -- has finishes of 27th and 40th. "We've had fast race cars, both of us, we just haven't caught the breaks we needed to,'' said Larson , the 2014 Sunoco Rookie of the Year. "I was running 10th at the white flag in Daytona and we got jumbled up and wrecked. At Atlanta, I thought we had a top-five car and then had a bunch of issues about three-quarters of the way through the race. I hit someone on a green-flag pit stop and then my shifter broke for the second week in a row.'' "The main thing is we have fast race cars, so we're not worried yet. The good part of the new format is you can win one race and you're back in it. I'm confident in my team.'' Larson's crew chief Chris Heroy is equally confident in the team, but more than ready for a change in fortune. "I'm a believer you make your own luck to a certain extent,'' Heroy said of Larson's unfortunate race finishes. "This week is really about tightening up the details, not having a shifter fall off into his lap in a race." "Having fast cars definitely helps you get through the week when you have had problems like we’ve had. I believe you create your own luck to a certain extent but we have had some pretty unique circumstances. All we can do is focus on the details and get these cars and Kyle the finishes they deserve. We've made major changes already in pursuit of that and we won't stop until we get there." McMurray, a Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 winner, said that despite the scorecard, he's found great solace in the season start. "Even though we haven't finished well, it's been a really good start to our season for the 1 and the 42 car,'' McMurray said. "And with (new crew chief) Matt (McCall) coming over and the little bit of rules changes we had and the different engine package you don't really know if you're going to pick up where you left off last year. "I was optimistic but very quiet about how I felt about that. I knew there was a chance things might not pick up right where we ended. Plus, not having any testing and as a team not getting to work together, you really don't have a clue where you're going to be. "But we're probably faster this year than we were even at the end of last year. I say that for both cars. We've really been top-five cars at the first two intermediate tracks, lots of speed." If fans had to do a double-take on the Ganassi locale in the Vegas garage, so did the team's drivers. Their uncharacteristically lower ranking in the drivers points puts them in a section of the garage more typically filled by lesser-funded, smaller operations that consider a top-20 race result a fantastic day. Being further down in the points standings has very tangible disadvantages. "It's hard, it stinks, especially where we are parked here in the garage, you don't get to get on the track right away when practice starts,'' McMurray said. "But I've watched Matt Kenseth or Jimmie Johnson blow up in the 500 and I think Jimmie won the championship that year. "It's frustrating to have a couple bad races. Plate races are always a gamble, but Atlanta was somewhere we definitely should have finished in the top-10 and you would have recovered from your Daytona 500 immediately and had your mulligan in the bag. "When you have two bad races, we have to have the next five go really well to move back up in the points and get to where we need to be." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
CGR duo scores top-10 finishes with McMurray challenging Harvick late RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings AVONDALE, Ariz. -- The CampingWorld.com 500 at Phoenix International Raceway brought the two-car Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates organization something that became very familiar in the latter part of the season: two top-10 finishes. Strategy plays to stay out on older tires led Jamie McMurray to a runner-up finish and Kyle Larson to a 10th-place finish. McMurray gave race winner and Phoenix dominator Kevin Harvick a late challenge on the final restart on Lap 301, but he couldn't quite get ahead of the defending Sprint Cup Series champion. The late restart was something in particular that McMurray lamented after the race. "If I could do my restart over again right now, I would have done something a little different," McMurray said. What exactly would he have done? "It was really hard on the last two restarts to get any drive," McMurray said. "When you would get to the corner, it didn't want to turn and it was loose. No grip. Sliding around a lot. Honestly, when I went through one and two I felt like I totally missed the corner and I was waiting to hear, three-wide, you're in the middle. I heard, clear. I wish I would have moved up immediately. He had momentum on the outside. "I didn't feel like I was clear. The cars are kind of like what we have at Daytona. When you're clear of someone or when someone gets to your quarter panel, you can feel it bog the car down. I didn't feel like I was clear. Hindsight, I would have listened to my spotter a little bit and just moved up. I felt like I missed the corner so I didn't have any idea how I could be clear." Still, McMurray was pleased with the day overall and praised crew chief Matt McCall 's late-race call to stay out on older tires in just his fourth race as the crew chief for the No. 1 team. "I'm really happy with second. It would be nice to be in Victory Lane and know you were locked into the Chase the way the point format works. "Matt did a great job calling the race. That's hard in your first four or five races to make that decision in the end to stay out on old tires. In hindsight, it was the right one. "When you're in the car, you run that many laps, you know how bad the car feels, when he asks me, 'what do you want to do?' I'm like, you're the crew chief. I'm going to do whatever you think is right.' He did a great job today." The two drivers carry their mojo forward at Phoenix and used quick stops on pit road to do so. McMurray spent the least amount of time on pit road (160.584 total seconds) and Larson spent the third-least amount of time on pit road (163.666 total seconds). Last season, despite not being in the 16-driver Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoff, McMurray and Larson were arguably two of the strongest cars during that 10-race stretch, combining for 11 top-10 finishes ( Larson had 6, McMurray had 5). The first races of 2015 did not see that strong late-season showing carry over as the organization's Daytona and Atlanta results drew finishes of 26th-or-worse in both races. The team seemed to regain its footing with last weekend at Las Vegas with Larson finishing eighth and McMurray finishing 11th. For Larson , the second straight top-10 was a welcomed sight and he gained four spots in the point standings to move up to 17th. "I'm happy to get a second top-10," Larson said on pit road after the race. "Wish we could have been a little bit better. Wish it would have stayed green there a little bit more without getting those last couple cautions because we were all good on fuel." Now, the California native is preparing to head back home for the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 22 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX). The reigning Sunoco Rookie of the Year scored his first career top-five finish there last year with a runner-up showing. "Last year, we finished second but we weren't racing up front the whole time," Larson said. "We just had a good restart. But we've learned a lot with our intermediate cars so we should be a lot better when we go back. We'll just have to wait and see when it comes to practice on Friday." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule