Kyle Busch talks about short track racing during a press conference at Martinsville Speedway. (Ken Childs photo)

Larson and Busch Open Up About NASCAR Drivers Competing in Short Track Races

NASCAR stars Kyle Larson and Kyle Busch, who both have deep roots in different disciplines short track racing, opened up about NASCAR drivers competing in short track events.

Larson, who currently leads the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings after a win at Auto Club Speedway of Southern California, said he would like to see NASCAR encourage more short track participation.  His commentary came in response to a question about whether Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates would intervene and prevent Larson from competing in Sprint Car as he continues to grow as a driver.

“I get asked that question all the time when are they going to shut you down,” Larson said on Friday. “But I feel like everybody needs to encourage me and others to go race at your local short track and all that because I feel like we’ve lost touch with our grassroots race fans. And, I really think with me going back and doing that stuff and Kyle Busch running Late Model races throughout the year, it really kind of gets the local fans back excited about NASCAR.

“I feel like the last decade or so they’ve kind of lost touch with it. Yeah, I feel like everybody should instead of making [team owners] Chip [Ganassi] and Felix [Sabates] feel like they have to shut me down, should encourage them because it helps our fan base out.”

Larson is allowed to compete in 25 Sprint Car races a year by Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates.  In 2013, Larson won a one-off Late Model Stock Car event at Daytona International Speedway with a last lap bump-and-run on C.E. Falk.

Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates also employs Matt McCall as a crew chief for Jamie McMurray – a former UARA-STARS champion who occasionally competes in a Late Model Stock Car himself whenever possible.  McCall recently won a Late Model Stock Car race at Southern National Motorsports Park in 2015 and most recently raced in the Thanksgiving Classic at Southern National last November, finishing third.

2015 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch, who has been one of the biggest advocates of short track racing, said drivers should weigh the options and consider the consequences before entering extracurricular races.

“As far as NASCAR stars going back to their roots and doing some of that stuff, I think it’s not necessary,” Busch said.  “If you love it, go do it.  Try to be safe.  But I think there’s a lot of risk and that’s why a lot of guys don’t do it.  Obviously, if you get hurt doing that and you lose your ride for a few weeks here and don’t ever have an opportunity to come back because somebody better than you take over in it, then you’re out.  So, you’ve got to weigh those consequences a lot.”

Busch spoke about how much he loves short track racing and follows the short track scene even when he isn’t racing.

“I mean, I enjoy the local short track scene.  I love racing in those cars.  I follow it as much as I can on Speed51.com.  Bob [Dillner] and his guys do a great of of following and covering the entire United States, whether it’s Late Model Stocks, Super Lates which are my favorite personally, Modifieds, dirt, pavement, all kinds of stuff.”

Busch, who competes in Super Late Model races all across the country throughout the season and owns several cars, said Joe Gibbs Racing kept him out of a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race one time because the risks outweighed the rewards.  He also went on to say he would continue racing in short tracks even past his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career.

“For me, I do that sometimes,” Busch recalled.  “I’ve wanted to run a Modified, one of the Whelen Modifieds at Loudon and years ago, J.D. Gibbs told me, ‘No, exactly with that same reason, like weigh your options and what you’ve got going on for you, we don’t need you getting hurt,’ and so, I was never able to go do those things.  As it comes down to it, when I get older and maybe get out of Cup racing, then I might go look at doing more of that stuff and touring around.  Hopefully, all the short tracks are still in existence by then too because it’s probably 15 years from now.”


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Andy Marquis

Andy Marquis

Andy Marquis is the managing editor of Race22.com, joining the team in 2011. Marquis has vast journalism experience, having covered ARCA, INDYCAR, NASCAR, AMA and IHRA Drag Racing. He has also covered politics from the local level in Maryland to the national level in Washington. Currently, he oversees the editorial side of Race22.com on a day-to-day basis while also contributing features and covering races on location.