November 07, 2014

AVONDALE, Ariz. (AP) Kyle Larson is returning to dirt-track racing after his rookie season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series.

Tony Stewart's troubles in sprint cup cars, including the crash that killed another driver earlier this year, had no bearing on the 22-year-old's decision.

A dirt-track driver as he came up through the ranks, Larson will become the first full-time NASCAR driver to race on dirt tracks since Stewart's accident when he competes in three races after his Sprint Cup rookie season.

''I love sprint-car racing,'' Larson said Friday at Phoenix International Raceway. ''It (Stewart's troubles on dirt tracks) didn't really weigh in on my thought or decision to still want to run races.''

Racing on dirt tracks has occasionally been dangerous for NASCAR drivers in the past.

Stewart was been involved in two crashes on dirt the past two years.

He broke his leg in a sprint car in 2013, causing him to miss the final 15 races. On Aug. 9, Stewart was involved in an crash that killed 20-year-old Kevin Ward Jr., who walked onto the track and was struck after approaching Stewart's car.

Nationwide and former Sprint Cup driver Jason Leffler was killed in a sprint-car crash in 2013.

Because of the danger, NASCAR drivers must first get approval from team owners before they are allowed to race in non-NASCAR events.

Larson said he had no trouble convincing team owner Chip Ganassi to green light his offseason races.

''I don't think it was very hard to get Chip to let me run these races,'' Larson said. ''I didn't want to run any during the regular Cup season. I just had it in my mind to run the races after (the season finale) Homestead.''

Larson will race in a midget car Nov. 26-27 at Perris Auto Speedway in California. He also will race sprint car in Somerton, Arizona, and back in a midget for a race in Tulsa, Oklahoma, both in January.

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