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Motorsports 101 Debate: Should Kyle Larson Run the Full Nationwide Series Schedule in 2014?

October 2nd, 2013 at 9:45 AM
By Mark Eddinger
Kyle Larson has announced that he will run the full NASCAR Nationwide Series schedule for the second straight year in addition to competing full time in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2014. Whether or not that is good for the growth of Kyle Larson’s career can be debated. Motorsports 101 debates whether Larson should run the full Nationwide schedule.
No – By Clayton Caldwell 
I always feel it that it takes the most focus possible to run in the Sprint Cup Series and for Kyle Larson that will not be the case in 2014. Juan Pablo Montoya was fired from this ride due to lack of production, which means to me that Target will expect big things moving forward from Larson and the #42 team. 
Joey Logano is a prime example of a driver who had a lot of expectations coming into the Sprint Cup Series and struggled. Logano’s lack of confidence after a really tough first year I think contributed to the lack of production at Joe Gibbs Racing as a whole. It took a change of scenery for Logano to really show his potential.

Although Logano’s struggles had nothing to do with focus or attention to detail, it’s still an example of why Larson shouldn’t run the full schedule in Nationwide. He’ll be running for the Rookie of the Year title with drivers Austin Dillon and Justin Allgaier, who are both young kids with a lot of potential. Larson is expected to compete for the Rookie of the Year title and if he doesn’t his confidence can be shattered. 
It seems like Earnhardt Ganassi Racing is making the case that perhaps Larson may not be ready for 2014 and he needs as much seat time in a stock car as possible. If that was the case why would you not have someone else run the #42 for the time being and then go with Larson when you think he is ready. 
It will be interesting to see the NASCAR Nationwide Series schedule next season and I have never been a fan of a Cup driver running the Nationwide Series on a non-companion weekend. Flying across the country and trying to run two races and perform your best by not being there the whole weekend is pointless. Only seven races on the Nationwide Series schedule are non-companion events in 2013, however that could change and if it does that makes it an even more head scratching move. 
The only reason why Larson is running both series, in my opinion, comes down to one thing. Money. Turner Scott Motorsports is losing Justin Allgaier to the Cup Series next season and they may need some additional funding to help keep that team being elite in the Nationwide Series. With Larson’s extra funding coming from Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing and Target they can fund the car for the entire season. 
Kyle Larson is a great driver and he should be given every opportunity to win and run well in the Sprint Cup Series. I think running in the Nationwide Series full time in 2014 greatly hampers his shot at making a Chase run in 2014 and even a Rookie of the Year title. If he has a bad year and his confidence fades it could be a disaster for him and the organization that has helped him grow. There’s really no reward for him running in the Nationwide Series.
Yes – By Mark Eddinger
The 21-year-old Kyle Larson has been compared to drivers like Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart because of the racing background he has come from. Another way that Larson compares to Stewart is that he wants to be in a race car as much as possible.
Larson has not been racing stock cars for long. He raced the full NASCAR K&N Pro Series East schedule of 14 races in 2012 and won the championship. Toward the end of 2012 he got into four Camping World Truck Series races and then he leapt into his full Nationwide Series effort this season for Turner Scott Motorsports.
The fact is that Larson just doesn't have a lot of stock car experience. His talent shows though and was enough to land him the Target No. 42 Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing ride already in 2014.
By running the full Nationwide Series schedule while also competing to win the Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year honors Larson will come out of 2014 with a ton of experience. A heavy race schedule isn't an issue with the young Larson as he wants to be in a car as much as possible.
A lot of experts have said that Larson's driving style should be more suited for the more horse power of the Sprint Cup cars over that of the Nationwide car. There is a chance he might actually have a better season in Cup than Nationwide in 2014 but running the full Nationwide Series is simply to get him as much experience as possible. NASCAR's rule of only being eligible to run for the championship in one series will take him from the Nationwide title hunt in 2014 but again it is all for the track time.
Target and the whole EGR program will want results but also understand that this is their driver of the future they are ready to put up with growing pains. When Larson has to miss some seat time on non companion events the team knows it is all building for the future. Expectations for his rookie season aren't to make the Chase but by gaining so much experience on the NASCAR circuit in 2014 Larson should be poised to have EGR in Chase contention in 2015 and moving forward.

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Tags: Clayton Caldwell, Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing, Kyle Larson, Mark Eddinger, Motorsports, NASCAR, Nationwide Series, Sprint Cup Series, Turner Scott Motorsports

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