Airline travel is an unavoidable part of being a member of the NASCAR community.
But not all drivers travel the same way. Some drivers fly on a team plane and more than a few drivers have their own private planes. This leads to drivers often sharing a ride with their competitors for the long cross-country flights, like Jamie McMurray and Martin Truex Jr. during the “West Coast Swing.”
But not Kyle Larson, At least for now, the Chip Ganassi Racing driver is a committed user of commercial airlines.
“I fly commercial as much as I can and fly with the team,” Larson said Friday at Martinsville Speedway. “That’s a lot of money to be private flying, especially to the West Coast. Yeah, I’m cheap with my money when it comes to flying. And, I like to rack up the miles so I can maybe get some free trips.”
Does Larson get recognized more now as his star in the NASCAR and sports world continues to rise, especially after his second Cup win last week?
“They recognize me just a little bit,” Larson said. “I’m better now. I’ll purchase a first class ticket now. But, a couple of years ago, I know (Ricky) Stenhouse and Danica (Patrick), obviously she’s a very wealthy person, but she doesn’t understand why I would purchase a coach ticket when coach is $120 versus first class being $500. I’m going to save that money. But now, I fly first class. (His son) Owen is older than 2 years now, so you have to purchase him a seat, which really stinks. But, I’ll fly commercial as much as I can, especially the West Coast stuff. I think commercial is better. The team plane, you have to stop for fuel. No Wi-Fi. Commercial’s not bad.”
After Larson’s press conference was over, his spot behind the microphone was taken by seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson. When asked about Larson’s flying habits, Johnson remarked “I think his days of flying commercial are about over.”
That’s just one of the sacrifices a winning driver must make.