Kyle Larson mum on NASCAR contract but wants to stay with Ganassi Racing
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship leader Kyle Larson wants to stay at Chip Ganassi Racing for the rest of his career and doesn’t seem likely to replace Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Hendrick Motorsports next season.
Fans have linked the 24-year-old to what is now the No. 88 with the announcement that Earnhardt will retire in November, but Larson dismissed the notion on Friday during a press conference at Richmond International Raceway.
“Yeah, I’ve been reading that a lot,” Larson said. “It’s funny to look at that and fans think they know everybody’s contract situation, so I think it’s pretty funny.”
That said, the contract statuses of both Chip Ganassi Racing drivers are a closely guarded secret, so Larson couldn’t outright confirm or deny his availability after 2017 when pressed about the topic.
“Oh, I’d have to talk to Chip, I guess, before I came out in public about anything that serious,” Larson said. “So I won’t talk about anything like that because I don’t even know if I’m allowed to or not. I know Jamie is very secretive about all his stuff. But I don’t know.”
Larson did, however, express loyalty to Ganassi and a willingness to drive for him until the day he retires if such a scenario made sense. Ganassi signed Larson out of dirt midget racing to a development contract in 2012 despite a relative lack of funding from the California native.
In that sense, Larson says he feels a great deal of gratitude toward Ganassi and his efforts to hire a driver based on talent alone. He hopes he and the 58-year-old can build something like Jeff Gordon and Rick Hendrick did in the 1990s.
“I’m very thankful that Chip signed me a few years ago without any funding because I had no funding, and (he) moved me up the ladder quick,” Larson said. “It all kind of worked out perfect with me and my situation. So I’m very loyal to Chip. I love racing for him. It’s been especially fun this year because we do have fast race cars.
“So, yeah, I would love to be with Chip the rest of my career. We’ve just got to continue to keep working hard and keep building fast race cars.”
Larson leads by 27 points over fellow young gun Chase Elliott but trails Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson by three points in the all-important playoff point category. This is his fourth full-time season.