Kyle Larson wowed by Darlington

  • Article by: PETE IACOBELLI
  • Associated Press
  • April 16, 2013 - 3:00 PM

DARLINGTON, S.C. - Young Kyle Larson's seen a lot in his rookie season. He's never seen anything like Darlington Raceway.

The 20-year-old Larson took his first laps Tuesday at the track "Too Tough To Tame." Larson and teammate and fellow Nationwide Series rookie Nelson Piquet Jr. were both on hand for two days of testing in preparation for a May 10 race.

Larson's packed a season's worth of noteworthy events into his first two months of racing. He was involved in a wreck at Daytona International Speedway in February when his car flew into the catch fence and debris — including a tire — went into the grandstands. More than two dozen fans were injured.

Larson was unhurt and said the incident didn't dampen his drive to succeed. Two weeks later at Las Vegas, Larson's car was in flames after another crash.

The developmental driver from Chip Ganassi Racing broke through for his first NASCAR victory, taking the truck race at Rockingham Speedway last week. A few days later, Larson nearly hit a cleanup truck at Texas Motor Speedway.

Larson says he's ready to gain more attention for his driving than for accidents and near misses.

Get ready for lots of those at Darlington next month

Larson went around the track by himself and thought he had it figured out enough for a first-timer on the "Lady in Black." But then he was driven around by consultant Todd Bodine and realized he didn't know very much about NASCAR's oldest superspeedway.

Bodine, who's won Nationwide and truck races at Darlington, is working with Larson and Piquet during the rookie tests for Turner Scott Motorsports.

Larson didn't yet scrape the wall and get his inaugural "Darlington stripe."

"You will," joked crew chief Trent Owens said.

Larson said the track's mismatched corners — turns one and two are different than turns three and four — make it essential for him to keep sharp during the run. He said he felt he was running close to the wall, but nowhere close to the line he'll need to compete in the Nationwide event here next month.

Larson is second in Nationwide rookie points and is 11th overall. He made history at Rockingham when he became the first Drive for Diversity graduate to win a race in one of NASCAR's national touring series.

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