Grading 2014's New Driver/ Team Pairings- Part 7

Merriam- Webster’s dictionary defines a prodigy as: a young person who is unusually talented in some way. Prodigy is perhaps the best word to describe NASCAR’s latest phenom 20 year old Kyle Larson. Ready or not Larson is about to burst onto the NSCS scene, and challenge a star studded rookie class for 2014 NSCS rookie of the year honors.

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last year, you know what this kid is all about. Larson is NASCAR’s most highly touted prospect since Joey Logano. His remarkable talents behind the wheel of a race car are undisputable, but untried.

Larson is only one year removed from a successful rookie season on the NNS tour, a campaign that produced a rookie of the year title complimented by 9 top 5 finishes, 17 top 10 finishes.

Although Kyle Larson failed to capture a victory on the Nationwide tour his strong performances were enough to convince Larson’s boss Chip Ganassi he was indeed ready for the next step in his young career. Kyle Larson replaces former Indy 500 champion Juan Montoya behind the wheel of the #42 Target Chevrolet. Upon the announcement in late August, Chip Ganassi’s unconventional driver choice immediately raised some eyebrows. However Ganassi is no stranger to unconventional approaches when it comes to his NASCAR teams. Most people were stunned when he originally hired Juan Montoya to drive the #42 car back in 2007.

Once gain Ganassi would be highly criticized for his latest venture, hiring a blue chipper perhaps a few years ahead of schedule. Nonetheless the debate wages on whether or not Larson is ready for the test of a lifetime, finding success on NASCAR’s grandest stage with minimal experience.
It remains unclear exactly what Ganassi expects out of Larson in year one of his NSCS career. I guess the jury’s still out on this one. One can only hope it works out for the very best in the end. It would be absolutely demoralizing to see a talented driver like Kyle Larson suffer from the dreaded Casey Atwood syndrome. Don’t forget Atwood’s career would be derailed prematurely due to mismanagement by Ray Evernham and company.

Honestly I see things working out for Kyle Larson in the long term future. It’s not to say he won’t experience some flashes of brilliance in his rookie season. Fact of the matter is he’s not completely ready to carry this kind of responsibility upon his shoulders, bestowed upon him by Chip Ganassi. A few more years of seat time in the NNS would have been ideal. There he would have ample opportunity to win some races, and perhaps a championship. NASCAR’s weak talent pool at the cup level is primarily the reason we are seeing more young inexperienced drivers rushed into battle on Sunday afternoons. What ever happened to grooming these youngsters for success? Kyle possesses an abundance of raw talent that cannot be contained. There’s even a chance he may remove himself from Earnhardt- Ganassi Racing in a few years.

A talent this coveted surely will be in high demand for some of the sports powerhouse organizations once their current drivers retire or test the waters of free agency. And that’s fantastic news for young Kyle Larson and his supporters. In the meantime should Larson become another failed statistic, we have only Chip Ganassi to blame. On the other hand if Larson can move mountains, Ganassi will look like the smartest guy in all of NASCAR.

Final grade- C

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