Some define “potential” as “hasn’t done it yet.” Kyle Larson is reaching that point in his racing career where he’s actually doing it, fresh off his trifecta at Auto Club Speedway. In one weekend, the 24-year old garnered a pole award, an Xfinity Series win, and a Monster Energy Cup Series victory. He’s reaching that point where success is no longer being discussed in the future tense. If the start to his 2017 season is any indication, the future for Kyle Larson is now.

In five races, Kyle Larson has four top tens, including three straight second place finishes. The kid who made his name in sprint car racing is living up to all the hype that accompanied his NASCAR arrival in 2012. While two career Cup wins in 116  starts hardly qualifies him for legend status, Larson has made a steady progression from his 17th place finish in 2014.

You get the feeling we’re seeing a changing of the NASCAR guard. Chase Elliott is continuing his ascension in his second year of Cup racing. Last Sunday’s event at Auto Club also found Ryan Blaney and rookie Daniel Suarez in the top ten, along with Austin Dillon, Erik Jones, and Ty Dillon in the top 20.

Kyle Larson isn’t leading the standings strictly on his own merit. His teammate- NASCAR journeyman Jamie McMurray- is currently running sixth in the standings. The folks at Chip Ganassi are finding speed this year, and the drivers are capitalizing, punching a hole in the narrative that NASCAR is the exclusive playground of Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing.

NASCAR needs a young standard bearer. Kyle Larson fits the bill. Not only is he showing that he’s good at what he does, he provides an alternative for those fans who prefer a less controversial figure. Kyle Larson is raising his game and earning his place at the adults table. Welcome to the club.

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