Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

NASCAR Notebook; Kyle Larson Is Not Talking about His Next Contract

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

NASCAR Notebook; Kyle Larson Is Not Talking about His Next Contract

Article excerpt

Byline: Don Coble

Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s pending retirement triggered immediate speculation about a replacement. And No. 1 on the list is Kyle Larson.

But is he available?

Larson's contract was supposed expire at the end of the current season - the same time Earnhardt will make his final start in the No. 88 Chevrolet at Hendrick Motorsports.

Whether he's already signed a new deal or is in the final stages to remain at Chip Ganassi Racing isn't known. And nobody is talking.

"I've been reading that a lot. It's funny to look at that and fans think they know everybody's contract situation so I think it's pretty funny," Larson said. "So, I won't talk about anything like that because I don't even know if I'm allowed to or not."

A first-place spot in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup standings with top-five finishes, including a victory at Fontana, Calif., in nine races is the reason the 24-year-old driver is attracting so much attention.

He was signed by Ganassi ahead of the 2014 season. Ganassi didn't have a sponsor and Larson had yet to transform all of his sprint car success into stock cars.

"I'm very thankful that Chip signed me a few years ago without any funding, because I had no funding, and moved me up the ladder quick," Larson said. "It all kind of worked out perfect with me and my situation.

"So, I'm very loyal to Chip. I love racing for him. It's been especially fun this year because we do have fast race cars. So, yeah, I would love to be with Chip the rest of my career."

Car owner Rick Hendrick not only faces a tough decision to replace Earnhardt, the 14-time most popular driver, but he also has to make a decision on Kasey Kahne's future with the organization. Kahne's contract is up at the end of season.

If asked, Earnhardt is willing to help find his replacement. If not, he will be content with trying to win races for one last run at a championship.

"In my position, I'm paid to drive Rick's car," Earnhardt said. …

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