Another piece of the Silly Season puzzle falls into place with word that NASCAR wunderkind Kyle Larson will take the wheel of the ‘42’ for Earnhardt-Ganassi in 2014. A surprise? No; but the question is, will Larson become the next Jeff Gordon, or will he become the next Casey Atwood?
There’s no way to really know. Sometimes you just have to jump in the water, and see how the water feels. Larson has acquitted himself well at every level up until now. Some can race in the Nationwide until the cows come home and never be ready, while some are practically born ready. Only time will tell. Think about it: seven years in this series, and Juan Pablo Montoya never did advance beyond being a road course ace. Drivers like Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman hit the ground running.
For Larson’s sake, one has to hope expectations are kept in line. for example, Joey Logano comes to mind. It was all “Sliced Bread” this, and Logano that; then some gave him up for a bust. Now- Logano is showing himself to be a pretty darn decent driver, somewhere in between greatness and god awful. He just needed some time and starts.
Let’s not forget that another key ingredient will be the ‘42’ team surrounding Larson. The car has been competitive at times, at others- not so much. How much of it was Montoya? How much of it was EGR? That’s just as difficult to gauge. Other than a nice, hot run for Jamie McMurray in 2010, and one Chase appearance by JPM in 2009, there hasn’t been a lot to write home about concerning the organization. McMurray and Montoya are solid drivers, to be sure, but they won’t exactly get mixed up in a line-up with Richard Petty or David Pearson.
Frankly, this fan is looking forward to a glimpse of Larson in the Sprint Cup series. It’s been a while since NASCAR has had a rookie come with this much anticipation- Danica Patrick aside.
It’s time for some fresh blood. Newman is almost certain to take a seat at RCR, A.J. will likely stay in the fold (in some capacity) at Penske, and then there’s a whole mix of veterans and untested youngsters who at this point probably aren’t really any better than Larson. Mark Martin just wants a part-time ride, and Bobby Labonte may very well be just what’s needed at Furniture Row. Certainly, that pairing would offer a darn good measure of both team and driver (are you listening Barney Visser?)
Larson’s move to Sprint Cup carries with it a lot of intrigue. What do you think fans? Is he ready? Does Larson have anything to prove in the NNS? This will be an interesting conversation-among many others- for quite some time.