Diversity Graduate Larson Scores First NASCAR National Series Victory

You could see it coming.

Kyle Larson, a multi-talented 20-year-old from Elk Grove, Calif., captured Sunday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway to become the first graduate of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity initiative to win at the sanctioning body’s national level.

“Kyle Larson’s victory is a truly historic moment in this sport,” said Brian France, NASCAR chairman and CEO. “We applaud his tremendous talent, and this landmark milestone for the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program. Kyle is among a strong crop of young, rising stars who signal a promising and competitive future for NASCAR.”

Larson, of Japanese-American heritage, finished second in the truck series last November at Phoenix International Raceway. In March, the 2012 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East champion fell inches short of defeating Kyle Busch in a NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Larson previously became the first NASCAR D4D competitor to win a NASCAR Touring championship. Driving for Rev Racing, Larson won last season’s NASCAR K&N Pro Series East title and the Sunoco Rookie of the Year with two wins, eight top-five and 12 top-10 finishes in 14 starts. Ironically, he wrapped up the championship at the one-mile Rockingham Speedway.

The Earnhardt Ganassi Racing development driver won Sunday’s North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at The Rock Presented by Cheerwine at the wheel of the No. 30 Turner Scott Motorsports Chevrolet – a race that also included Darrell Wallace Jr., likewise a graduate of the NASCAR D4D program. Larson drives for the team in the NASCAR Nationwide Series where he is a Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender and ranks 11th in the overall series points standings.

Larson’s next NASCAR Nationwide Series start will come April 26 at Richmond International Raceway.

Larson competed under the NASCAR D4D banner in 2012. Created in 2004, the NASCAR Drive for Diversity initiative has seen multiple drivers go through the program. Under the initial model, drivers competed for NASCAR approved and supported developmental teams throughout the United States. The initiative has evolved, and drivers now race for one team, Rev Racing, and have been since 2010.

A sprint car winner at age 14 – a discipline in which he continues to compete – Larson swept Eldora Speedway’s prestigious USAC Four Crown Nationals in 2011 with victories in sprint, midget and Silver Crown features. He won the legendary USAC midget Turkey Night Grand Prix last fall in California.