Kyle Larson's Love of Dirt Racing Irks NASCAR Fans, Again
Kyle Larson loves several kinds of motorsports, much to the dismay of some NASCAR fans who think he should focus on stock car racing.
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Larson unofficially announced June 18 that he would be racing dirt sprint cars full-time in the World of Outlaws series by the time he turns 40. He made the proclamation during a question-and-answer session on his Twitter account when a fan asked him when he’d be racing with the Outlaws full-time.
Since making the proclamation, Larson has been on the receiving end of quite a bit of flak from NASCAR fans on social media accusing him of not caring about NASCAR enough, with some of those fans encouraging him to just "go ahead and leave" the series if he didn’t like it. Larson, though, still has several years before he turns 40, as he’ll celebrate only his 26th birthday in July.
During his Friday media availability at Sonoma Raceway in his home state of California, ahead of Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 at the track, Larson insisted that he loves NASCAR, too. He pointed out that if he continues in NASCAR until he’s 40, he’ll have competed there for about 20 years, comparing that span of time to the NASCAR Cup Series career of Jeff Gordon.
“I think some people aren’t quite as open-minded, maybe,” Larson said. "It’s like they read it as if I said in two years from now I wanted to do it. I mean, 15 years from now that would put me 20 years in Cup, so that’s a long time. I think Jeff Gordon spent about that much time in the sport, but I don’t know; maybe I don’t do the best job in the world of talking about how much I love NASCAR as much as I do sprint cars, but I do. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t love NASCAR racing.”
Gordon raced full-time at the Cup level for 23 years before his retirement at the end of the 2015 season.
Larson also expressed a wish for fans to develop loves for all forms of racing.
“I just want fans to be fans of motorsports, not just NASCAR and not just sprint cars,” Larson said. “I would like to see everybody just enjoy all of racing, and I think that’s what I do. Maybe I don’t do a good job of it sometimes, but I enjoy racing all types of vehicles. Most fans get it, but some fans aren’t quite open-minded enough.”
Larson continues to run dirt sprints whenever he gets free time from his NASCAR obligations, and his recent Twitter Q&A wasn’t the first time he ruffled feathers when discussing his love of another form of racing outside NASCAR.
“The Chili Bowl is, gosh, like I said, it’s up there with the top races I want to win,” Larson said during an interview of SiriusXM NASCAR Radio in January of the largest dirt midget race held yearly in Tulsa, Oklahoma. “Everybody knows I love dirt-track racing. For me, the Chili Bowl is bigger than the Daytona 500. I know some fans, that might bum them out or think I have some bad attitude when it comes to NASCAR racing, but I love it. There are some special dirt races I want to win and Chili Bowl is one of them.”
Larson found himself doing damage control as a result of those comments, too. He followed the Chili Bowl statement with a tweet proclaiming that he was heartbroken after nearly winning the 2017 Daytona 500, NASCAR’s flagship race.