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Kyle Larson unabashed about setting lofty goals for 2015

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Kyle Larson unabashed about setting lofty goals for 2015
Jan 29, 2015, 9:26 PM

Team owner Chip Ganassi likewise thinks Larson’s goals are achievable.

2014 Sunoco Rookie of the Year Kyle Larson
Kyle Larson, Ganassi Racing Chevrolet and Kurt Busch, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
Kyle Larson, Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Paul Menard, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, Kyle Larson, Ganassi Racing Chevrolet and Kurt Busch, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet head back to track
Kyle Larson, Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Kyle Larson, Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Paul Menard, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet and Kyle Larson, Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Roush Fenway Racing Ford, Greg Biffle, Roush Fenway Racing Ford, Kyle Larson, Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Kyle Larson, Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Kyle Larson, Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Kyle Larson, Ganassi Racing Chevrolet

CHARLOTTE, N.C.— When it comes to their own on-track expectations as a new season approaches, many NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers are reluctant to reveal specific personal goals.

Then there’s Kyle Larson, who appeared entirely comfortable in talking about the racing milestones he expects to achieve in 2015.

“Last year my goals were to maybe win a race, definitely make the Chase and win rookie of the year and be like a top-15 car each week,” Larson said Thursday during the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates session on the Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour at the Charlotte Convention Center.

Larson did win Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors—by a landslide—and he posted eight top fives and 17 top 10s. Though he finished second three times, at Fontana, New Hampshire and Kansas, he did not win a race in his rookie season. Nor did he make the Chase.

I don’t think he should become the next Tony Stewart or the next Jeff Gordon, I think he should become the next Kyle Larson.

Kyle Larson

Failure to achieve all his 2014 goals, however, hasn’t prevented Larson from establishing loftier objectives for the coming season or from talking about them.

“This year I think we’re capable, at least the way we ended last year, to definitely be a top-10 car each week, and win at least two races and make the Chase and go for the championship,” Larson said. “I think those are pretty realistic goals.”

Team owner Chip Ganassi likewise thinks Larson’s goals are achievable.

“He has the ability to get maximum speed out of the car without giving the car anything more than it will accept,” Ganassi said. “I think that’s a talent. A lot of guys can give the car more than the will accept, and that just causes other issues along the way, in the race or in the season.

“He’s got a great ability not to do that.”

Ganassi, however, doesn’t believe Larson should try to model himself after other superstars of NASCAR racing.

“I don’t think he should become the next Tony Stewart or the next Jeff Gordon,” Ganassi said. “I think he should become the next Kyle Larson. He has a lot of people who take ownership of his career, whatever, and I’d like to see him become the next Kyle Larson.”

Larson already has won a race this year—just not in the No. 42 Chevrolet he drives in the Sprint Cup Series. Last weekend at Daytona, he joined Cup teammate Jamie McMurray and IndyCar drivers Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan in winning the Rolex 24 Hours, the marquee event of the IMSA Tudor United SportsCar season.

The victory was a record sixth for Ganassi, and Larson was a significant part of the effort, with a Rolex watch to prove it.

“I didn’t really want to come back and run this year,” said Larson, who struggled in his 2014 Rolex 24 debut. “But I’m so happy I did…

“It’s 1:17,” he added, glancing at the watch and grinning.

And the preponderance of opinion in the Cup garage is that it’s also time for Larson to have a breakout season in 2015.

“I want to thank all the people that told us we were bringing him along too fast last year,” Ganassi quipped.

Reid Spencer - NASCAR Wire Service

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