After days of speculation that NASCAR Nationwide Series rookie driver Kyle Larson would inherit the No. 42 Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet seat in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, team owner Chip Ganassi and Larson made the move official during a press conference at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Friday afternoon. Larson will be replacing Juan Montoya in the No. 42. Montoya will finish out the season in the No. 42.
“I’m real excited,” Larson said. “I’m sure there’ll be growing pains for sure, but I’ll grow as a driver and mature as a person.”
Larson has yet to make a start at the Sprint Cup level. He is a participant in NASCAR’s Drive 4 Diversity program and was already under a development deal with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. He is in his first year of competition in the Nationwide Series and currently leads the rookie standings in that series. In the overall Nationwide standings, Larson is eighth in points while driving the No. 32 Chevrolet of Turner Scott Motorsports. He has also competed in two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races this year, also for TSM. He won the truck race at Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway in April.
“Certainly, we think Kyle is the future of this sport,” EGR owner Chip Ganassi said. “He’s a unique talent. That was a racing decision. We feel Kyle is the best short and longer term choice for (sponsor) Target. Kyle was our first choice. We didn’t offer any deals to other drivers. We talked to a number of other drivers. At the end of the day, we felt Kyle Larson was the best option.”
Speculation has Montoya returning to IndyCar. This season is Montoya’s seventh full-time year at the Sprint Cup level. He currently sits outside the top-20 in the points standings. He made NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup postseason in 2009. Of his six full seasons prior to 2013, he finished 17th or worse every year, except for 2009. He has two-career wins, both coming on road courses.
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR
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