DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) - Kyle Larson’s fourth career race on a road course didn’t start as planned.
Larson was flagged for speeding as he pulled off pit road after taking over from Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan in his debut Saturday in the Rolex 24 at Daytona. He was forced to serve a stop-and-go penalty in his Chip Ganassi Racing entry.
He later flat-spotted his tires on a re-start, fell a lap off the pace and struggled to maneuver through traffic.
When he was done, the budding NASCAR star was disappointed in his performance and unsure if he’d get another chance behind the wheel of the No. 02 Ford in the four-driver lineup.
“I didn’t go off track, so I guess that was good,” Larson shrugged. “But I almost did probably a handful of times. I’m just disappointed in how I did. Hopefully I get back in.”
The 21-year-old is moving into the Sprint Cup Series this year for Ganassi after just one year in the Nationwide Series. The bulk of his career was spent racing sprint cars, and his only previous experience on road courses were Nationwide races at Mid-Ohio, Road America and Watkins Glen.
Still, Ganassi tabbed him for a spot on a stout lineup that included reigning IndyCar champion Scott Dixon, Kanaan and Marino Franchitti.
Dixon, the lead driver on the No. 02, praised Larson before his stint.
“He’s a smart kid who is obviously very talented, and I’ve had some of my best nights at the Chili Bowl watching him,” Dixon said. “But for his first time, and I don’t know how many road courses he has done - probably not many, probably in the single digits - he’s adapted very quickly. He’s a quick learner and doesn’t complain much. He’ll put on a great show when he gets in the car. Looking forward to seeing his big future.”
But Larson wasn’t thrilled following his stint, mostly because he felt he had been much better in testing and practice sessions.
“I thought I adapted quick, so that’s another reason I was disappointed with how I did,” he said. “In the practicing and stuff, I was quite a bit quicker than how I was in the race, and I was smoother. I don’t know? Maybe the track was dirty or something?”
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