DARLINGTON, S.C. – Kyle Larson can’t wait for the day the talk is solely about his skills as a driver and not the crashes or close calls that have tainted his rookie season in the Nationwide Series.
The 20-year-old Larson gained attention when his car flew off the track and into the fence at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway in February. More than two dozen people were hurt when debris, including a tire, went into the grandstands.
Two weeks later, Larson’s car was in flames after a crash in Las Vegas. Then last Friday night, Larson nearly slid into a cleanup truck at Texas Motor Speedway after blowing a tire.
“Hopefully, I’m getting all these weird races out of the way early in my career,” he said this week at Darlington Raceway.
Larson capped the week with a checkered flag when he took the Camping World Truck Series race at Rockingham Speedway last Sunday.
“I’ve been running well, maybe a little bit better than I expected,” he said. “I’d like to get more exposure for that than for events like Daytona.”
That’s why Larson and his Turner Scott Motorsports teammate Nelson Piquet Jr. came to Darlington for two days of rookie testing. Larson had only seen “The Lady in Black” on TV and got an up-close look at the speedway’s narrow straightaways and misshapen corners.
He and Piquet were tutored by Todd Bodine, who’s won both Nationwide and truck series races at Darlington, on the best way to get around NASCAR’s oldest superspeedway.
Larson’s shown he’s a fast learner. Signed as a developmental driver by Earnhardt Ganassi Racing for the 2012 season, Larson debuted in the truck series last June with a top-10 finish in Kentucky.
Larson moved up to the Nationwide Series with TSM and has found his way into the headlines, if not Victory Lane. Larson’s frightening accident at Daytona was replayed over and over, his car going airborne as pieces from the crash injured spectators.