By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
SONOMA, California — In a sport where a driver’s words can come out the wrong way from the eyes of the fans, Kyle Larson discussed his comments regarding his passion for sprint car racing such as the World of Outlaws during Friday morning’s press conference before the first of two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practices at Sonoma Raceway.
Known to be one of the last pure versatile drivers in the states, Larson opened up about fans criticizing him for being avid for sprint car racing instead of NASCAR, citing they viewed it as if he’ll run full-time World of Outlaws in less than five years.
“Some people aren’t as open minded,” said Larson. “It’s like they’ve read as if I said two years from now that I want to do it. I don’t do the best job in the world of talking about how I love NASCAR as much I do with sprint cars, but I do.
“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t love NASCAR racing. I enjoy sprint cars and I feel like I talk about sprint cars just to open people’s eyes to that style of racing. It’s a great form of racing, and so is NASCAR.”
Larson added that part of his motive of being an advocate for sprint cars is to making fans inclusive and branch out to all types of racing.
“I just want fans to be fans of motorsports, not just for NASCAR or sprint cars. I like to see everybody just enjoy all of racing,” Larson added. “I think that’s what I don’t do a good job sometimes, but I enjoy racing all kinds of vehicles. Most fans get it, but some fans aren’t as open minded.”
In addition of defending his case about motorsports, Larson praised several drivers for not only running different cars, but being tremendous advocates for short track racing as more fans and drivers have demanded to expand new horizons in order to grow motorsports for a healthy future.
“I think you can look at what myself, (Christopher) Bell, Kasey Kahne, (Ricky) Stenhouse, and Tony Stewart. Kevin Harvick has been a big advocate the last year of growing grassroots racing. It’s huge for motorsports in general in helping to grow motorsports, and getting these fans paying attention to the local race tracks.”
Larson found difficulty explaining why he feels that he’s making a difference in motorsports by running other types of racing on his own terms.
“I enjoy doing it. I don’t feel obligated to go race that stuff to make motorsports bigger, but I know when I’m doing it that I am doing something positive for racing. That gives some extra enjoyment out of it. I love going to the dirt track and hearing multiple fans come up each and every night saying, ‘you and Bell are the reason why I’m watching NASCAR again.’ That makes me feel real special and having an impact when I go racing.
“You’ve seen a huge push to help grow grassroots racing, and Harvick recently has been a big promoter of that. We’ll just keeping having fun doing what were doing, and doing our best to grow it.”
Larson, who currently sits 10th in points, won last year’s pole at Sonoma, but looks to score his first top-ten with only a 12th from 2016 being his best at the 1.990-mile road course.