Defending champion Kyle Larson’s career path to NASCAR’s top tier is still a “foreign” thing for Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Larson was a spectacular force in the Cup Series last season, dominating throughout the season en route to his first Cup Series championship title. Just a year before that, he was suspended by NASCAR. During this time, Larson continued racing in many dirt events.
While Larson was always seen as someone with talent for NASCAR, but he realized his potential with Hendrick Motorsports last season. However, something that was never in doubt was his dirt racing exploits. Before his stock car racing career, Larson made his name in dirt racing and continues to race in such events whenever possible.
This path from dirt racing to NASCAR is “foreign” to Earnhardt Jr., who said:
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen, outside of Kyle Larson. There’s a couple of new guys like Reddick and few other guys, like Christopher Bell. That’s new to me, that route to NASCAR seems to foreign to me, even though its worked.
“Its working, and maybe that’s the new thing. Maybe that’s the new route to get into the sport, is starting at dirt tracks and racing dirt cars. You know, sprint cars and all those things, all the way up to a truck. The first real stock car on asphalt, is an ARCA/K&N car or a truck. Two decades ago, you had several years of short track racing under your belt before you know, on asphalt.”
Larson is a living example of how this transition from dirt racing to NASCAR can work. While he might not have reached the heights of the 2021 season, Larson has managed to get a win early on. And with the dirt racing at Bristol Motor Speedway, Larson will enter the race as a heavy favorite to add to his one win this season.