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NASCAR on NBC podcast, Episode VII: Kyle Larson

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Good Sam 500 - Qualifying

AVONDALE, AZ - MARCH 11: Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, walks on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Good Sam 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on March 11, 2016 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

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Kyle Larson, the Chip Ganassi Racing driver in the midst of an extended homecoming, is the primary guest on the seventh episode of the NASCAR on NBC podcast.

Larson, a native of Elk Grove, California, has been spending much of his time on the West Coast since the 2015 season ended, celebrating the holidays in his native state and then enjoying the Phoenix Open golf tournament. He also is attending a family wedding (where his 14-month-old son, Owen, will be the ringbearer) this week in California before Sunday’s race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana

The 23-year-old is a fan of being a fan at other professional sporting events – he has tweeted photos from his courtside seats at Oracle Arena for Golden State Warriors games (which he scored through a friend who’s a financial advisor).

“It was really cool,” he said. “The Warriors are unbelievable right now, especially Steph Curry and how great of a player he is. To sit courtside and watch him is really cool.

“Going to any other basketball game, when a player hits a 3-pointer they get a round of applause. But when Steph or Klay Thompson hit a 3-pointer, that place would go nuts.”

Larson also attended a Charlotte Hornets game recently as a guest of point guard Jeremy Lin, who came to the Chip Ganassi Racing shop last year for a tour.

“Jeremy is a really good guy, super, super normal,” Larson said. “I was blown away by how normal of a guy he was.”

As an Asian-American driver in NASCAR, Larson can relate to the impact Lin has made in diversifying the NBA’s fan base

“I definitely have noticed more Asians at the racetrack wearing my race gear,” he said. “It’s cool to play a small role of helping out the sport.”

During the podcast, Larson also discusses:

--The rigors of traveling the NASCAR schedule with a young family and how Owen is adapting to his immersion in the racing lifestyle;

--How he and girlfriend Katelyn Sweet handle parenting on the road;

--How members of his generation feel so comfortable with expressing themselves on social media and why it’s important for Larson to be so blunt about his performance on Twitter;

--Evaluating his 2016 performance and the outlook for Fontana.

To hear those discussions and more, listen to the podcast by clicking below, or download and subscribe to it on iTunes by clicking here. It also is available on Stitcher by clicking here.

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A breakdown of the Kyle Larson interview with time cues for easy referencing:

5:30 – Not a golfer, but the Phoenix Open was fun

7:00 – Courtside seats for the Warriors …

8:30 – … but he once was a Kings fan

10:00 – The atmosphere at Oracle Arena

10:30 – Being Jeremy Lin’s guest at a Hornets game

10:50 – “Jeremy is a good guy, super normal”

11:50 – The Asian-American sports connection

13:30 – On the joys of traveling with a baby boy

15:15 – A girlfriend who also grew up in the rigors of racing

16:00 – Immersing Owen in the racing experience

17:00 – “I don’t want to spoil him, but he’ll get to do what he wants.”

18:00 – “Before he turned 1 year old, he was making race car noises”

19:15 – How kicks beneath the covers decide who awakes in the middle of the night

20:15 – The disarming nature of social media for Millennials

22:00 – “I try and take the blame as much as I can”

22:50 – On hearing drivers destroy their teams on the radio

23:45 – His team appreciates the Twitter candor

24:15 – The state of the No. 42 Chevrolet

26:00 – Outlook for Fontana

27:15 – Why he likes the bigger speedways

28:15 – “I hope Owen doesn’t eat the ring” as ring bearer in uncle’s wedding

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In the second half of the podcast, NASCAR Talk managing editor and writer Dustin Long joins to evaluate what has been learned through the first four races of the Sprint Cup season.

Among the topics:

--The dominance of Sprint Cup powerhouses over the past two seasons and if there is any hope for the underdogs (covered in this week’s “Upon Further Review” feature by Dustin);

--What the future might hold for Kevin Harvick at Stewart-Haas Racing after his victory at Phoenix International Raceway;

--The abysmal start to the 2016 season for Clint Bowyer and its potential repercussions.

Again, you can subscribe to the podcast (and receive automatic downloads via your smartphone) by clicking here.