Is Larson ready for prime time?

LEXINGTON, OHIO - AUGUST 15: Kyle Larson, driver of the #32 McDonald's Chevrolet, sits in his car during practice for the Nationwide Children's Hospital 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 15, 2013 in Lexington, Ohio. (Photo by Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images for NASCAR)

LEXINGTON, OHIO – AUGUST 15: Kyle Larson, driver of the #32 McDonald’s Chevrolet, sits in his car during practice for the Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 15, 2013 in Lexington, Ohio. (Photo by Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images for NASCAR)

BROOKLYN, Mich. — With Juan Pablo Montoya exiting the No. 42 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet at the end of the season, speculation has quickly turned to potential replacements.

Kyle Larson, 21, is under contract to the organization for eight years, but from an experience standpoint, he has less than one full season of NASCAR Nationwide Series racing under his belt.

The way Jimmie Johnson sees it, that may not be a big issue — and Johnson ought to know. After learning the sport with limited success in NASCAR Nationwide cars, Johnson made the jump to NASCAR Sprint Cup and has dominated that division in terms of race wins and titles since he joined the series full-time in 2002.

“When you look at Kyle’s background (Sprint Cars), he’s driving cars with far more power than grip,” Johnson said before Friday’s practice. “I think the Cup car will suit his style far better than a Nationwide car. But you do need that foundation of knowing these tracks, because when we show up, our fastest lap we’ll run all weekend will probably be our first lap right now.

“And if Kyle Larson wants to go to Cup next year, that’s tough to do. He’s going to need the whole session to get where he needs to, and then you’re five or six adjustments behind the fast guys.”

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