Kyle Larson – From Race Car Driver to Daddy in 9 Months Flat…
Kyle Larson – From Race Car Driver to Daddy in 9 Months Flat…
Michelle Hoskin, February 3rd, 2015
This week we were lucky enough to get the chance to interview Kyle Larson this past week. Despite his very hectic schedule of racing during the off-season at the Chili Bowl race in Oklahoma and trying to balance the trials and tribulations of being a new ‘Daddy’, we were ecstatic that he took the time out of his busy life to answer some great questions for us. Kyle drives the No. 42 Target Chevrolet SS for Chip Ganassi Racing.
22 year old Kyle has been racing since the age of 7. He was, however, at the track since the ripe age 1 week old. So it comes as no surprise that Owen, with parents Kyle and Katelyn Sweet , was at the race to cheer Daddy on at the Chili Bowl Nationals in Oklahoma last week – IT WAS Owen’s first race.
Kyle won the 2011 4-Crown Nationals at Eldora Speedway, winning in all three types of USAC cars in a single night, only the second driver in history to accomplish that (1). In 2012, Larson started his first season NASCAR’s Touring Series and was named the series Rookie of the Year. Larson then moved onto a full-time position in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, driving the No. 32 for Turner Scott Motorsports (2). Larson ended up winning the Rookie of the Year award in the Nationwide Series in 2013. On October 1 it was announced that Larson would run in two 2013 Sprint Cup races for Phoenix Racing, at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Martinsville Speedway, to prepare for his rookie season (3). Kyle went on the become NASCAR’s 2014 Sunoco Rookie of the Year.
Kyle and Owen Larson, relaxing at the Chili Bowl Nationals
Michelle Hoskin: Any new plans for you and Ganassi racing this year?
Kyle Larson: Our plans for this season are pretty much like they were for last season. We started off last season with a goal of making the Chase. Our goal and plan for this season is to make the Chase, and we think we’re capable of winning a couple races. We were close a few times last season, so this year we’ll be targeting victory lane.
M: Your thoughts on the Chase point system?
Kyle: I really like the new Chase format. I thought expanding the field this season would make it easier to get in, but it turned out to be more difficult. Towards the end of the regular season and during the Chase, the new format really provided a lot of excitement for the fans and the drivers too. I think all the drama that resulted is a good thing for our sport. I’m sure some small changes will be implemented over the next couple season, but overall, I like the system.
Kyle Larson’s Pit Box, Chicagoland Speedway, September 2014
M: If you could relive any great moment in your life, what would it be?
Kyle: I think if I could relive a moment from my racing life, it would be winning my first World of Outlaw race. I got my first win at the Gold Cup Race of Champions at Silver Dollar Speedway in California. It was a neat place to get my first Outlaws race because I had been attending that race as a fan since I was about one. It was surreal to be holding the Gold Cup after winning the race.
M: Favorite track to run?
Kyle: For dirt tracks, my favorite track is Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway in California. For NASCAR, my favorite track is Homestead-Miami Speedway. I wish we didn’t have to wait all season to get back there.
M: First of all…congrats on the birth of your baby boy! How has life changed since the baby arrived?
Kyle: So far, things haven’t changed too much for me. Right now he’s pretty easy; mostly sleeping and eating. Owen has been a pretty good sleeper, so he’s not waking us up too much during the night. He’s been a little more fussy lately, but Katelyn and I are figuring out some ways to get him calmed down. I’m still mastering diaper changes and getting used to all the baby stuff that needs to travel with us. Note: Larson and his longtime girlfriend Katelyn Sweet welcomed their first child, son Owen Miyata at 11:09 p.m. ET on Monday in Charlotte. He weighed 7 pounds, 14 ounces and measured 19 1/2 inches (4).
M: If you could talk to yourself as a kid just starting out, with the knowledge you have now, what would you tell yourself?
Kyle: One thing I would probably tell myself is to spend more time hanging out with friends from school. Since I was seven I’ve been racing, so I didn’t always have a lot of time to do things with people outside of the track. One thing I was always taught as a kid that stuck with me, that I’d definitely reinforce to my younger self, is to always have fun doing what you’re doing. My parents emphasized that to me a lot growing up, and it’s been some of the best advice I’ve received. Note: Kyle’s parents are Mike and Janet Larson.
Kyle Larson, Chicagoland Speedway Garage area, September 2014
M: Role model growing up?
Kyle: I’d have to say my role model growing up was definitely my Dad. During those early years racing, a lot of times it was just me and him working on the karts. He passed on his love for racing to my Mom, and then to me. He’s always been a great supporter and encourager.
M: If you could race one on one with ANY driver, past or present, who would it be/why?
Kyle: If I could race one on one with anyone it would definitely be National Sprint Car Hall of Fame driver Leroy Van Conett. He’s from near where I grew up, and raced sprint cars back when my dad was a kid, and was his favorite driver. My dad started following him when he was pretty young, so it would be neat to race against the guy my dad used to root for. He was also a great driver. Note: Leroy is a Sprint car legend, who carried on racing right into his 70’s, but has now retired.
Kyle Larson, Driver Introductions, Chicagoland Speedway, September 2014
M: Your favorite Christmas present ever?
Kyle: Well, before this year, I would have said my favorite Christmas gift was a PlayStation. But, after the birth of my son Owen just before Christmas this past year, I’d have to say he’s my favorite gift. The day he was born was such an incredible experience. Note: And what a great present that is…
1. Kerchner, Mike (September 25, 2011). “Short-Track Roundup: Kyle Larson completes USAC sweep”. Autoweek. Retrieved January 22, 2015.
2. Pearce, Al (February 6, 2013). “Tony Stewart raves about Kyle Larson, rising star to run full Nationwide schedule”. Autoweek. Detroit, MI: Crain Communications. Retrieved January 22, 2015.
3. Spencer, Lee (October 1, 2013). “Larson to make Cup debut at CMS”. Fox Sports. Retrieved January 22, 2015.
4. http://www.nascar.com/en_us/news-media/blogs/Kyle-Larson/kyle-larson-katelyn-sweet-welcome-baby-owen-miyata.html. Retrieved January 22, 2015.