Kyle Larson, a 21-year-old racing prodigy from California, will move up to NASCAR's premier Sprint Cup Series next year with the team Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, sources said Wednesday.
Larson, currently in his rookie year in NASCAR's second-tier Nationwide Series, will replace Juan Pablo Montoya on the two-car team, whose other Cup driver is Jamie McMurray, according to people familiar with the situation but who were not authorized to discuss it publicly.
EGR, led by veteran team owner Chip Ganassi, declined comment. But the team has scheduled a news conference Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, site of the next Cup race, where Larson's ride is expected to be announced.
The team earlier this month declined to re-sign Montoya, 37, a former Indianapolis 500 winner and Formula One driver who found little success in NASCAR. Montoya is 21st in the Cup title standings.
A Japanese American from Elk Grove, Calif., Larson already has been under contract with EGR as a developmental driver.
He's currently eighth in the Nationwide point standings and, although he hasn't won a Nationwide race yet, he has 13 top-10 finishes in 23 races this season.
Before moving to stock-car racing last year, Larson had excelled racing midget cars, sprints and other open-wheel cars on dirt and paved tracks.
He's drawn high praise from such NASCAR champions as Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart, who last year called Larson "absolutely phenomenal."
ALSO:Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun