- Beer-flavored lollipops make debut: ‘An All-American slam-dunk’
- Gabby Giffords’ gun control push gets high-profile speaker: Bill Clinton
- Tony Blair to warn West: Take sides against radical Islam
- Pfc. Bradley Manning’s name change to Chelsea heads to court
- NYPD’s attempt at positive Twitter outreach campaign proves to be an epic fail
- Michigan man among first in U.S. to get ‘bionic eye’
- JetBlue pilots vote to unionize; 2 previous attempts failed
- Pentagon plans to replace flight crews with ‘full-time’ robots
- Navy’s military dolphins may meet Putin’s porpoises in Black Sea
- Forget the Porsche — it’s the guy with the Prius that attracts the ladies, poll shows
Larson hopes to continue rise at Darlington
FLORENCE, S.C. (AP) - Kyle Larson is grateful for the exposure he’s received as part of NASCAR’s “Next9” initiative. He is confident it won’t take long for the group of up-and-coming racers to compete for checkered flags and championships at the sport’s highest level.
Larson, 20, will continue his rookie season in NASCAR’s Nationwide Series on Friday night at Darlington Raceway. Larson won the truck race at Rockingham last month to become the first from NASCAR’s “Drive For Diversity” program to win on the circuit’s three national touring series.
Je has enjoyed getting to know some of the sport’s other rising young drivers, including 17-year-old Chase Elliott and 19-year-old Darrell Wallace Jr. Larson and the others made their final appearance together Thursday since a new group will be named next month, according to PJ Rashidi, NASCAR senior manager for driver services.
“It’s really cool to see a group of young guys coming up,” Larson said. “Because the past six to eight years, there really hasn’t been many young drivers getting opportunities. Now, it seems like those doors are starting to open more.”
Larson’s victory at “The Rock” made the opening even wider. He’d largely been known by NASCAR fans for his accidents and near misses. He went airborne into the catch fence in a frightening crash at the end of the Nationwide event at Daytona. More than two dozen fans were injured in the accident.
Then in April, Larson came close to hitting an air-dryer truck at Texas Motor Speedway.
Larson has struggled to find consistency on the track. He finished second at Bristol in his second start this season, yet has placed 32nd at Texas and 38th at Talladega last week.
“I was hoping we’d have some momentum after the win” at Rockingham, Larson said. “But it’s gotten worse. It’s as bad as we can get lately.”
Then again, big disappointments often go hand-in-hand with big expectations.
The “Next9” effort identifies talented young drivers who are believed to be the future of NASCAR. These nine were picked last season and have made group appearances throughout the year, giving them face time in markets like Phoenix, Chicago and Los Angeles they might not have as development drivers in regional races, Rashidi said.
Elliott, the son of NASCAR great Bill Elliott, says being picked as someone headed for success is a career boost, but it’s still up to the driver to make things happen on the track.
“I think we’re close,” said Elliott, competing in the truck series. “I think I just have to do a little better job out of the gate.”
Elliott doesn’t spend too much time worrying about where he’ll be racing down the road, preferring to enjoy where he is at the moment. “I’m just trying to make the most of every race,” he said.
Wallace, like Larson, is a graduate of NASCAR’s diversity program designed to attract minorities and females as drivers. Wallace is competing in his rookie season in the truck series and stands eighth through four races.
“There’s always pressure when you start out racing,” Wallace said. “It’s been OK for me. I know I carry a different face into it. There’s some extra pressure there, but I do my best to put that aside and go out racing,”
Feds who send arms against ranch families betray American values
- CARSON: When government looks more like foe than friend
- Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy hailed as patriot, ripped as lawless deadbeat
- Tactical advantage: Russian military shows off impressive new gear
- IRS revokes conservative group's tax-exempt status over anti-Clinton statements: report
- Ministry of Truth: SCOTUS skeptical of law to police campaign 'lies'
- America is an oligarchy, not a democracy or republic, university study finds
- HURT: President Obama's 'Selfie Doctrine'
- SOWELL: The high cost of liberalism, open spaces and affordable housing
- Ukraine claims torture by pro-Russian forces on the heels of Biden's stern warning to Moscow
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren: 'I'm not running for president'
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.