LOUDON, N.H.—It may not be the expression of gratitude Jeff Gordon had in mind, but Kyle Larson knows one way he can pay Gordon back for all the kind words he’s said about the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookie.
Larson would like nothing more than to whip Gordon on the race track.
“Before I even raced the K&N Series, Jeff Gordon had a lot of respect for me and talked very highly of me,” Larson said Friday before opening Sprint Cup practice in preparation for Sunday’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (2 p.m. ET on ESPN). “It seems like Jeff’s my biggest fan over the last couple of years.
“It’s awesome to see a guy who has been racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series as long as I’ve been alive to talk so highly of me. I don’t even know if he’s really ever even talked about another driver like he has with me. That makes it feel really special for me.”
And the way to live up to Gordon’s high praise?
“Now I just want to go out there and beat him more often,” Larson said.
In last week’s opening Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Chicagoland Speedway, Larson finished third behind race winner Brad Keselowski and Gordon after leading 20 laps. Almost everyone in the garage expects Larson to achieve a breakthrough win sooner rather than later, and Larson seems ready to fulfill that expectation.
“Every race I will sit in the motorhome and watch TV and flip to Twitter,” Larson said. “Everybody always says ‘This is your weekend.’ I believe them, but it kind of sucks when you don’t win. But I definitely feel like we’re really close. We’ve been close a couple of times this year. Heck, we were just a little bit off of winning at Fontana. Then I thought we had the first or second best car last week.
“If I could have done things right we could have two wins this season. I think it’s coming. I hope it’s before the end of this year. But, if not, we won’t be too disappointed, because we’ve been running well all season long. I didn’t win any Nationwide races last year, and then I feel like I’ve been really competitive this year in Nationwide. I’m sure, starting next year, we will be really good in the Cup series.”