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Chip Ganassi and Felix Sabates have concerns about Kyle Larson racing sprint cars, Indy 500

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Last September, not long after he won his first NASCAR Cup Series race, Kyle Larson was asked on the NASCAR on NBC podcast if he’d talked with owner Chip Ganassi about competing in the Indianapolis 500.

“He always told me to worry about winning your first Cup race ,” Larson said. “I would love to run the Indy 500 at least once.”

As of Sunday, Larson has two Cup wins driving the No. 42 for Chip Ganassi Racing.

But according to his team owners, they would prefer that he stay away from extracurricular racing outside stock cars.

Minority co-owner Felix Sabates said if Larson raised the subject of the Indy 500 this year, the answer likely would be negative.

“No, I don’t think so,” Sabates said Monday night on “The Late Shift” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “It’s a different kind of racing all together. Kyle would probably be one of the few guys, like Tony Stewart, because he ran (an) open-wheel car for a long time, he could adapt to it.

“But no need for him to go take a risk of hurting himself just for one race. It just doesn’t work.”

One of Larson’s other hobbies is returning to his roots and competing in sprint car races whenever he can. CGR reportedly allows him to compete in 25 sprint races a year (with the next coming Wednesday at Placerville Speedway). But Ganassi said to USA Today Sports he’d be more comfortable if Larson no longer indulged in that form of racing.

“Let’s just say this: I do get concerned when he wants to do that,” Ganassi told reporter Brant James. “I would say I’d be much happier if he said he wanted to go play golf. But also, at the same time, I don’t want to slow him down. If he thinks that makes him better, OK, great. If he thinks that’s slowing him down, I would think he would stop it. But for now, he thinks it makes him better.”

Stewart participated in “The Double” of competing in the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 twice in his career, in 1999 and 2001. In the second attempt, Stewart competed for Ganassi at Indy and finished sixth.

Since 1994, only four drivers — Stewart, John Andretti, Robby Gordon and Kurt Busch — successfully have attempted “The Double.”

When Gordon attempted it for the first of five times in 1997, he competed in both races for Sabates’ SABCO Racing.

But at the time, Gordon wasn’t competing full time in either the Indy Racing League or NASCAR. He started 20 of 32 Cup races that season.

Larson is currently on top of the Cup point standings following his win at Auto Club Speedway. He assumed the points lead for the first time in his career after three consecutive runner-up finishes following his near-win in the Daytona 500.

The 24-year-old driver is in his fourth full-time Cup season with Ganassi. But Larson was teasing a possible attempt at “The Double” as early as December 2015.

Last May, Larson visited Indianapolis Motor Speedway with Ganassi on the first day of practice for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

Still winless in NASCAR at the time, Larson allowed himself an even bigger window when it came to prerequisites for entering the race.

“It would be incredible to start the 500 someday in the future … but it’s more up to the guy on my left (Ganassi),” Larson said. “Maybe after I win a Cup race, or two or three … or maybe a championship … I can run the Indy 500.”

With or without Larson, this year’s Indy 500 will be run on May 28. Larson can be seen in his full-time ride later in the day in the Coca-Cola 600.

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NASCAR mourns Kobe Bryant

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Joining their brethren in other sports, the NASCAR world took to social media upon learning the tragic news of the death of Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant, killed Sunday morning in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.

Bryant had met a number of NASCAR drivers in his career, including Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano. They were among a number of NASCAR notables who took to social media to mourn Bryant:

 

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Chad Knaus and wife expecting second child

Photo courtesy Brooke Knaus official Instagram account
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Seven-time NASCAR Cup champion crew chief Chad Knaus and wife Brooke are expecting their second child.

Brooke made the announcement Saturday on her Instagram account.

The couple, already parents to one-year-old son Kip, will soon be adding a daughter to their growing family.

Brooke Knaus’s Instagram post said the baby is due in July.

Kip figured prominently in the baby revelation, coming at the end of mom and dad’s ski run while vacationing in Telluride, Colorado:

 

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Kyle Larson flips, misses finals of Australia’s biggest sprint car race

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Kyle Larson’s hope of following up last week’s Chili Bowl win with a triumph in Australia’s prestigious Grand Annual Sprint Car Classic fell far short Sunday.

Larson’s bid to race his way into the 24-car finals of the three-day race at Premier Speedway in Warrnambool, Australia, ended when he flipped (uninjured) on the opening lap of a last-chance qualifying heat race earlier in the evening.

Instead of being one of the featured drivers in the Classic’s 40-lap finale – the largest and most popular sprint car race of the year in the land down under – Larson was left to watch the event from the pits and cheer on Dyson Motorsport teammate and fellow American Carson Macedo.

Even that didn’t go very well, as Macedo flipped his own sprint car on the first lap of the Classic, resulting in a last-place finish. The highest finishing American was Cory Eliason, who ended up fourth.

Meanwhile, it was an all-Australian podium, with James McFadden winning the Classic for the second time in his career, followed by James Veal and Kerry Madsen.

In eight days, Larson went from capturing what he called the biggest win ever of his racing career on all levels – the Chili Bowl in his 13th try last Saturday in Tulsa, Oklahoma – to nothing but bad luck and utter frustration throughout his Australian journey.

Larson’s first race on Wednesday in the King’s Challenge at Borderline Speedway was rained out.

Then, in the first night of the Classic on Friday, Larson wrecked heavily in his first heat race, including flipping (he was uninjured). After his team repaired his car, Larson went back on the track, only to suffer a blown engine that knocked him out of contention to race in that evening’s feature event.

After not being on the schedule to race in Night 2 of the Classic on Saturday, Larson had one last chance to make Sunday’s featured championship event.

A total of 80 drivers battled it out in the B, C and D Mains for the eight remaining spots in the A Main, but Larson would end up not being one of those — as can be seen in the second line of the following tweet by his team:

Larson now returns to the United States to prepare for the Daytona 500 on February 16.

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Kyle Busch feeling like ‘the new guy’ during his Rolex 24 debut at Daytona

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Kyle Busch was looking forward to his first stint at 6 p.m. Saturday in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

The two-time Cup champion was less enthused about his second turn behind the wheel in the IMSA season opener. Busch will climb back into the No. 14 Lexus RCF GT3 at 2 a.m. Sunday, just past the midpoint of the endurance race classic at Daytona International Speedway.

“That’s going to suck, yeah,” Busch deadpanned. “That’s exactly when I told them I did not want to run, and I got it.  Thank you very much.

“(I’m) the new guy.  I pulled the short straw.”

Click here to read more about how Busch felt about his AIM Vasser Sullivan car.