If preparing four cars for the NASCAR Cup Playoffs weren't enough to have on Greg Zipadelli’s plate, the vice president of competition for Stewart-Haas Racing is also dealing with contract negotiations for his drivers for 2021.
While he maintained his measured tone when addressing the status of Aric Almirola and Clint Bowyer for next year, when it came to securing a talent such as Kyle Larson, the veteran racer became a bit more animated.
Would he consider moving his current Cup line up around to accommodate Larson? Zipadelli didn’t hesitate.
“I don’t think there’s an organization out there that wouldn’t," Zipadelli told RacinBoys.com. "He’s a great, great talent and I don’t think he’s proved what he’s capable of doing."
There’s not another driver who has enjoyed the level of success Larson has in 2020. After losing his ride at Ganassi Racing on April 14 for the use of a racial slur while competing in a non-NASCAR iRacing event, Larson has gone on an unprecedented tear in dirt, winning in everything from a midget to a late model.
As soon as last year’s Cup season ended, Larson swept the California midget features from the Hangtown 100 in Placerville to Turkey Night in Ventura. His winning ways continued at the Gateway Nationals in St. Louis, before Larson left for Western Springs Speedway in New Zealand and a stint in sprint cars in Australia. Since the start of 2020, Larson has won 35 races, including securing his long-sought-after Golden Driller at the Chili Bowl Nationals, an Indiana Midget Week title, and victories in the Capitani Classic and the Ironman 55.
On Saturday, in just his second start in the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series—and probably his biggest challenge this year—Larson won at Port Royal Speedway in the Rumble by the River.
“After the first night, I felt that if I could start on the front row, I could win,” Larson said. “So I had a lot of confidence after the first night. It worked out where I had quick time and won that heat to line up on the front row. I felt if I could beat (Brandon Sheppard) and get to the lead and set my own pace, I’d be alright.
“There’s no doubt, these guys are the best there is—especially this weekend with the outlaws being off. You’ve got Brandon Sheppard and Jimmy Owens being here, myself. That’s a lot of wins between three people this year. It’s nice to go out on top, to win here tonight. I felt a lot of pressure. I put a lot of pressure on myself. I felt a lot of pressure just from the late model fan base talking a little bit that I ‘wasn’t going to do good.’ I didn’t know if I was going to do good either.
“It just feels good to not necessarily make a statement about sprint car drivers but just make them proud and show that we are really good drivers. Hopefully, me coming over to late models will get some of these fans to cross over and pay attention to what’s going on in the sprint car world, too, because it’s all really exciting racing, for sure.”
Despite carrying the "Yung Money" moniker into the stock car ranks, Larson’s career never really took off behind the wheel of the No. 42 Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. He scored just six wins in 223 Cup starts.
Zipadelli believes if Larson is given the opportunity to race in top of the line equipment, the 28-year-old racer will finally prove his potential.
"I think that kid has got a lot of talent and has a lot of good things in his future as far as wins and racing for championships and things of that nature,” Zipadelli added. "We’re just kind of waiting to see how everything pans out and then we’ll make the decisions which we feel is best for our organization and our drivers.”