CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Chip Ganassi Racing will announce Juan Pablo Montoya’s replacement Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway and every indication is that Kyle Larson will be promoted to the Sprint Cup series.
Some will ask if it’s too soon for Larson, who turned 21 last month and doesn’t even have a full Nationwide Series season on his resume.
Hamlin, after all, ran only one season of Nationwide (then called the Busch Series) before Joe Gibbs Racing moved him up to Cup. Granted, Hamlin was three years older than Larson is now. But his numbers weren’t exactly lighting the Nationwide Series on fire.
He ended that season with just one top-five finish and 11 top-10s, and he ranked fifth in the final season standings. But he took to the heavier Cup car in a late season tryout and ran the final seven races of the season in preparation for his 2006 jump to the full Cup schedule.
Larson, on the other hand, already has six top-five finishes and 13 top-10s with 10 races remaining this season. He may not get a shot to make his Cup debut this year, but he’s been impressive in everything he’s run and team owner Ganassi is apparently banking on Larson making the same quick adjustment that Hamlin did when he won two races as a Cup rookie, made the Chase, and finished third in the final standings.