Kyle Larson gained his 7th World of Outlaws victory of the 2020 campaign on Saturday night in Knoxville, Iowa, taking home a nice $50,000 for the win, however, there’s a sense his success this summer on the dirt track is a stopgap until his return to the prestige, riches and a much more competitive scene offered by NASCAR.
The six-time NASCAR Cup Series winner was one of the most coveted free agents in ahead of the 2021 season until his public rant with the use of a racial slur during an online racing event back in April which led a suspension, followed by a mass exodus from all his main sponsor and his dismissal from Chip Ganassi Racing. He’s been competing in dirt ever since, even though a return to NASCAR seems possible, given remarks by team and manufacturer decision-makers in the press.
“We’re in the midst of silly season and what I can say is we are looking at all our options,” said Rushbrook – Ford’s Global Director of Motorsports.
SHR, the championship-winning team currently fielding an entry for Kevin Harvick, has two seats available in its four-car stable, with free agent Aric Almirola set for a return, the No. 14 Ford ride of Clint Bowyer is currently unaccounted for.
Stewart himself confirmed his interest in Larson to Racer Magazine’s Robin Miller back in June – although it was unclear whether it involved the NASCAR or Stewart’s World of Outlaws team.
“I would have a heart to heart with Kyle Larson to see if he’s worthy of a second chance,” RPM owner Andrew Murstein confirmed to me in the same interview in which he discussed Wallace had been offered an ownership stake in the program. “But the hope is that we end up with Bubba.”
NASCAR teams clearly recognize the importance of Kyle Larson’s presence in a team that overachieved during his tenure, but the emotional cost of his hiring now could outweigh any cut-rate contract he’s offered.
Stewart-Haas Racing is best positioned to take on the headache Larson provides potential sponsors due to its willingness to place the CNC machining company owned by co-namesake Gene Haas onto entries in Formula 1 & NASCAR.