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Kyle Larson Shares What It's Like To Be in the Car When His Wife Katelyn Is Driving

The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champ joked that he may be a steady-handed speed demon on the track, but he’s a "really bad" passenger-seat driver when his wife Katelyn takes the wheel in their home life.

By Andrew Woodin
Kyle and Katelyn Larson on Winning Traditions, Next Gen Car and New NASCAR Show

Kyle Larson is a man on a mission. As the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs zooms into Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend for the Round of 16’s final race — a dirt race at night — the 31-year-old native of Elk Grove, California currently sits atop the field in first place with 2,117 points, three wins and a staggering 12 top-five finishes.

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Even better, Larson is arguably the best to ever race on dirt, no matter the sled beneath him. He knows it, and so does the field. Not one to ordinarily heap praise on his competitors, Kyle Busch, last year’s winner at Bristol, tried his hand at late model racing on dirt, admitting after his noticeable struggles that he’s “no Kyle Larson.”

RELATED: Chase Elliott Defuses Kyle Larson Tension: "I Didn't Have the Full Picture"

But despite his sublime skills behind the wheel, when relegated to the co-pilot chair by his wife Katelyn, with whom he shares three children, the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion admittedly has some backseat driver issues.

Close up of Kyle Larson and wife Katelyn smiling

"I’m not the passenger too often, but with Katelyn, when I’m the passenger, I’m really bad,” Larson confessed in a recent interview for The Athletic’s 12 Questions podcast. “When I’m with J.P. [manager Josh Peterman], I’m not too bad.”

Considering how long Larson has been a perennial fixture in competitive stock car racing and his sheer volume of success over the years with whatever he’s driving, it’s easy to understand why he cites the ability to drive and maintain a high speed as the prevailing quality that a good NASCAR Cup Series wheelman must have. 

As a passenger when his wife pilots the ship, apart from dealing with a lack of speed — what Larson hails as the most crucial element for a driver of his caliber — experiencing anxiety-inducing traffic complications is something Larson says challenges him the most when he rides shotgun with Katelyn.

RELATED: Why Chase Elliott Wasn’t Too Happy With Teammate Kyle Larson at Kansas

“With Katelyn it’s like, ‘You’re clear, get over’ or ‘Pass these cars,’” continued Larson. “I’m definitely driving from the passenger seat, but she rarely drives.”

For Larson — who added on the podcast that singer and actor Justin Timberlake is one of the celebrities he’d most like to meet — taking it slow couldn’t be more of an alien concept. But instead of golfing like his counterparts Bubba Wallace, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch, Larson enjoys alone time or family dinners out at Mexican restaurants with his kids as a way to unwind and have fun. As a doting father, Larson knows there’s much more to life than just competing in race cars.

Kyle and Katelyn Larson with their children

“My life always revolved around racing, but I did do other stuff, and I remember my parents would always just make sure I was having fun with whatever I was doing,” Larson added. “So, I try to do the same thing now; I try to make sure my kids are having fun with whatever they’re doing. Just enjoying every day.”

Talking about downshifting into a slower speed got the dirt duster to think about what he may do after he hangs up his keys, and his answer, whether serious or not, might surprise you.

RELATED: Kyle Larson Slams Denny Hamlin for Fencing Him at Pocono: ‘I’m Pissed!’

“And then the bus driver stuff — I like driving my bus,” revealed the Hendrick Motorsports wheelman. “So, maybe I could be a school bus driver someday — retire, move to Florida or something. That’s what [former motorcycle racing champion] Randy Goss did, so maybe that would work out for me.”

Until then, Larson is focused on trying to capture his second Cup Series championship.