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Larson confirmed as Montoya's successor

Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing has confirmed that it is handing the full-time race seat of the #42 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car to 21-year-old Kyle Larson for 2014.
Kyle Larson will take over the wheel of the #42 Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing car from the start of 2014 once Juan Pablo Montoya's contract expires at the end of the current season, the team confirmed on Friday afternoon at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

"We believe that Kyle is the future of the sport," said team owner Chip Ganassi at the press conference. "He's a unique talent ... This was a racing decision. We felt that Kyle was the best short-term and long-term fit for the team and for [sponsors] Target."

In line with team policy Ganassi wouldn't reveal the length of Larson's contract to drive the #42 beyond stating that it was a multi-year deal. he added that the team had also just completed an extension to Jamie McMurray's contract to continue in the #1 car as Larson's team mate in 2014.

"Kyle was our first choice [to replace Montoya]," Ganassi continued. "We did not offer any deals to any other drivers. We talked to other drivers. We're thrilled to have Kyle. Nothing he has done makes us feel he cannot move to the Sprint Cup Series.

"We need to continue Kyle Larson's growth, and putting him in a Cup car was the very next step. We're sure there will be some growing pains but we're sure he's ready," Ganassi added. "My expectations and advice to him will be to keep the car on the track and run laps. As many of you already know, this kid is a special kid. We couldn't be more proud to have him here today announcing him as our driver for next year and beyond."

The 21-year-old Larson, who currently sits eighth in his first season in the NASCAR Nationwide Series standings with 13 top-tens and six top-fives in 23 starts, said that he was thrilled to be handed such a top opportunity so early in his career.

"It's definitely been quite a whirlwind," he agreed. "I was walking over here saying a year ago today I was making my second Truck start. It's been a really quick road. But I feel like I've done okay with it and learned quite a bit.

"I'm really excited, excited to be a part of the Target brand," he said. "It's a pretty iconic car. I think I can do okay. Like you said, there's going to be some growing pains, I'm sure. I think I'll learn a lot and I'll grow as a driver and mature as a person."

With Friday's announcement confirming what many had expected ever since Juan Pablo Montoya's contract with the team wasn't renewed earlier this month, there had been considerable discussion about whether it was too soon for Larson to be making the step up to Cup competition in such a high-profile seat in 2014, but Ganassi was confident that his new signing was ready.




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Kyle Larson, driver of the #30 Autism Speaks Chevrolet, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Carolina 200 at Rockingham Speedway on April 14, 2013 in Rockingham, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #32 Cottonelle Chevrolet, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Nationwide Series Jeff Foxworthy`s Grit Chips 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway on March 16, 2013 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images for NASCAR
Kyle Larson speaks during a press conference announcing his move to the #42 Target Chevrolet during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on August 30, 2013 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Kyle Larson and team owner Chip Ganassi speak during a press conference announcing his move to the #42 Target Chevrolet during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on August 30, 2013 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Cars race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series MyAFibStory.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 14, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Toyota, leads Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, and Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series MyAFibStory.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 14, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois.  (Photo Credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Aric Almirola, driver of the #43 Eckrich Ford, races Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series MyAFibStory.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 14, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Toyota, leads the field past the green flag to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series MyAFibStory.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 14, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #51 Dollar General Toyota, crosses the finishline to win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Lucas Oil 225 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 13, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #51 Dollar General Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Lucas Oil 225 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 13, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #51 Dollar General Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Lucas Oil 225 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 13, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #51 Dollar General Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Lucas Oil 225 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 13, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Toyota, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series MyAFibStory.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 12, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
(Back Row L-R) Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Toyota, Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Kelloggs/Frosted Flakes Ford, Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Catepillar Chevrolet, Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, Aric Almirola, driver of the #43 Gwaltney Ford, (Front Row L- R) Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, Greg Biffle, driver of the #16 3M Call Before You Dig Ford, AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #47 Bush`s Beans Chevrolet, Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet, Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Insurance Chevrolet, and Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet, pose with the Sprint Cup Trophy after qualifying for the Chase for the Sprint Cup during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (Photo Credit: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
(Back Row L - R) Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Toyota, Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Kelloggs/Frosted Flakes Ford, Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Catepillar Chevrolet, Miss Sprint Cup Madison Martin, Miss Sprint Cup Kim Coon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Insurance Chevrolet, Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, Aric Almirola, driver of the #43 Gwaltney Ford, (Front Row L- R) Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, Greg Biffle, driver of the #16 3M Call Before You Dig Ford, AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #47 Bush`s Beans Chevrolet, Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet, Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, pose with the Sprint Cup Trophy after qualifying for the Chase  (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, poses with his team in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway on September 6, 2014 in Richmond, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway on September 6, 2014 in Richmond, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway on September 6, 2014 in Richmond, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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