LARSON BELIEVES IN KEEPING IN TOUCH WITH GRASSROOTS RACING

by Placerville Newswire / Apr 01, 2017 / comments

[Kenny Bruce | NASCAR.com]

MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- Kyle Larson, the most recent winner and the points leader in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, said Friday he believes competing in local weekly shows is good for NASCAR and that others should be encouraged to compete outside of NASCAR as well.

Larson, 24, has one win and three second-place finishes in this season's first five races. His fast start hasn't led Chip Ganassi Racing officials to ask him to cut back on his extracurricular efforts and focus on his No. 42 Chevrolet team.

"I've got a deal with Chip where I can run 25 races, so I'm going to fill all 25 of those up this year," Larson said prior to practice at Martinsville Speedway. "I enjoy doing it and I had a lot of fun racing this week."

Three days after his second career win in the Monster Energy Series, Larson was back behind the wheel of a World of Outlaws entry, competing in the Placerville Short Track Showdown in Placerville, California.

RELATED: Larson breaks runner-up streak with win at Auto Club

Larson said he's often asked "when are they going to shut you down?" and curb his outside racing interests.

"But I feel like everybody needs to encourage me and others to go race at your local short track and all that because I feel we've lost touch with our grassroots race fans," he said. "And I really think with me going back and doing that stuff and Kyle Busch running Late Model races throughout the year, it really kind of gets the local fans back excited about NASCAR."

Bobby Allison, the 1983 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion, often raced several times throughout the week in between his Cup starts; Ken Schrader would race as many as 90-100 times each season while competing full time in Cup. Others also raced local shows on occasion.

"I would usually race on the short tracks before the Cup events as many as five times per week," Allison said. "Aside from my Cup efforts, I was really obsessed with running the short tracks as much as I could."

Many fans at local tracks weren't close enough to tracks hosting NASCAR events and only got the opportunity to see NASCAR stars compete when those drivers showed up for mid-week shows.

"I ran the Modifieds for many years in the early 1960s," Allison said. "I also ran the Late Model Modifieds and many, many regular Late Model events. I would either take my own cars from Alabama or I would go to race tracks when asked to do so by promotors and would drive a car by local team owners."

RELATED: Harvick calls Larson 'best driver to come along since Gordon'

Larson is in his fourth full season at NASCAR's top level and won his first race last year, at Michigan.

He'll carry a 29-point lead into Sunday's STP 500 (2 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

And regardless of how the following weeks and months play out, he said, he hopes to continue to race elsewhere when the opportunity is there.

"Yeah, I feel like everybody should, instead of making Chip and Felix (Sabates, minority team owner) feel like they have to shut me down," he said, "(they) should encourage them because it helps our fan base out."