Kyle Larson won 2014 Rookie of the Year honors in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in the No. 42 Chevrolet for Target Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. He will file a Blog periodically chronicling his second year in Sprint Cup. This week he talks about hitting some other games while on NASCAR’s West Coast swing and looking ahead to battling the bullring this weekend at Martinsville. For previous installments, click here. To see Kyle when he visits IMS in July for the Crown Royal presents the “Your Hero’s Name Here” 400 at the Brickyard, click here.
As you might know, I’m from the West Coast, so I took the opportunity to stay out near home during the recent NASCAR swing out west. It was nice to see some friends back in northern California and not have to go back and forth to North Carolina, but I’m kind of glad to be back in my own house after almost three weeks away. Being out west was fun, and I got to do some pretty cool stuff in between racing.
Before racing in Phoenix, I got to throw out the first pitch at a Dodgers spring training game – my first time ever throwing out a first pitch. I was extremely nervous! I can’t even tell you the last time I threw a baseball. I played little league when I was seven or eight, and have maybe thrown a baseball only a handful of times since I stopped playing. I did throw around a little with my girlfriend, Katelyn, while we were home after the Vegas race, but nothing too serious. I wanted to at least play catch with somebody at the stadium beforehand but there was no time – I rushed over to the game right after qualifying was over at the track. I just got the ball, went on the mound, let it fly and hoped it would make it across the plate. It was a little bit outside but I’m sure somebody would have swung at it. When I got there I met Andre Ethier, who’s a big racing fan, and his only advice was to not short-hop the pitch. I didn’t do that, so I was happy.
After racing in Vegas, I went to a San Jose Sharks game with a couple of my friends. It was a really, really good game. They played the Pittsburgh Penguins, which is Chip Ganassi’s favorite hockey team, and they beat them, so that was good. Hockey’s really fun to watch in person. We also caught a Sacramento Kings game, and got to tour the facilities, go in the locker room and meet a couple of players. I also got to wave the checkered flag for a tricycle race during a timeout. They played the Atlanta Hawks, which is my PR guy Davis’ team. I think most people there thought the Kings would get creamed because the Hawks are pretty good. The Kings got beat, but hung in pretty tough and kept the score pretty close the whole game.
It was cool getting to go to a few games the past few weeks. I’m not a huge sports fan so I don’t really get into anything until the playoffs, but I’m starting to get more into regular-season football games because I started playing fantasy football last year with all the guys on my team. I finished last, and didn’t have a win until pretty late in the year. I just didn’t know what to do, really. Hopefully this year I’ll do better.
On the track, next we’re heading across the country to Martinsville. It’s a big, big change for me. I do better on tracks like what we’ve been running, those intermediate-style tracks. When it comes to advice on how to get around Martinsville, I’m not the guy to ask. Right now, it’s probably my worst track on the schedule. I don’t ever look forward to going there, but I felt like I got going OK toward the end of the last race there last season before getting into a wreck at the end. I think I understand more what to do now as a driver, so hopefully going back this time we’ll be a little more competitive. A top-15 at Martinsville would be like a win for me and our team. I think my best finish there is 27th.
Now that we have a few races behind us, I think we’re definitely in the rhythm of the season now. The pit crew swap a few weeks ago was a good change for us, and I feel like our stops have been a little better lately. We all just need to do a little bit better job and we’ll run up front even more often than we do. We’re getting better, slowly but surely.
Until next time,