Hampton, GA (Sports Network) - Kyle Larson has been named as the replacement driver for Juan Pablo Montoya in the No. 42 car for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing in 2014.
Team owner Chip Ganassi made the announcement on Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series are racing here this weekend.
Larson is an EGR development driver who is in his rookie season in Nationwide. The 21-year-old driver is currently eighth in the point standings. In addition to his full-time Sprint Cup duties, Larson will run a complete schedule in Nationwide next year. He is driving the No. 32 Chevrolet for Turner Scott Motorsports this season.
"Certainly we believe that Kyle is the future of the sport," Ganassi said. "He's a unique talent. Let me be very clear, this was a racing decision. We felt that Kyle was the best short-term and long-term fit for the team and for (sponsor) Target.
"While our team has been partnered with Target for 24 years, when we decided to make the change, we wanted to make sure we found the right driver, someone that would represent their brand as well as have a chance to win races. Kyle was our first choice. We did not offer any deals to any other drivers. We talked to other drivers. We're thrilled to have Kyle."
Larson has yet to win a Nationwide race this season. He finished a very close second to Kyle Busch in the spring event at Bristol. Larson also finished in the runner-up spot at Michigan earlier this year. He has competed in two Camping World Truck Series races this year, winning at Rockingham, N.C. and finishing second at Eldora Speedway.
In 2012, Larson made four truck starts. He also became just the third driver in the history of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East to win a championship as a rookie that year.
"I feel like I've learned quite a bit this year in the Nationwide Series, the K&N Series, all the stock car stuff," Larson said. "Even the sprint car stuff I run helps when I come over here and race the stock cars.
"I guess there's a point when somebody's not ready. But I feel like I am ready. I feel like I can go out there and contend. I raced with some Cup guys in the Nationwide Series this year and learned a lot from them. Raced them hard. Beat some of them. I think I can do it. I think Chip obviously thinks I can do it, so that's all that really matters to me."
Earlier this month, Montoya revealed that he will not be back with the No. 42 team at EGR next year. Montoya, a former Formula One driver and Indianapolis 500 champion, has scored two wins (Sonoma in 2007 and Watkins Glen in 2010), 24 top-five finishes, 57 top-10s and nine poles in 241 Sprint Cup starts. He has been a full-time competitor in Cup since '07. Montoya is presently 21st in points.
Larson has not competed in a Sprint Cup race, but Ganassi is hoping to get him a few starts in NASCAR's top series by the end of this year. There are 12 races left.