Kyle Larson adapting swiftly as he continues his preparations for his debut at the Indianapolis 500

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Kyle Larson (Credits: Yard Baker)

Kyle Larson expressed satisfaction after completing 43 laps at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in readiness for his upcoming debut in the Indianapolis 500.

He was relieved to have completed the rookie orientation last October, avoiding the stress of having to do it during last week’s open test. Instead, he had the chance to run alongside experienced drivers and ended the day second only to Josef Newgarden on the speed chart.

According to Larson, each session with Arrow McLaren has been focused on working through a checklist as he familiarizes himself with driving an Indy car.

During orientation, he focused on details like getting accustomed to the steering wheel. In Phoenix, he concentrated on feeling the car’s movements and practicing pit stall maneuvers.

His time on the 2.5-mile track in Indianapolis was another opportunity for Larson to check off items on his list as he prepares for his debut at “The Greatest Spectacle of Racing.”

“I can now focus on the next steps, like understanding how to maneuver around cars and applying what I’ve learned to being in traffic,” Larson remarked.

“I’m lucky to have done the orientation last year and then got some practice at Phoenix. It’s going to be beneficial.”

Next month, Larson will attempt “The Double,” racing 1,100 miles in one day by competing in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600, NASCAR’s longest race.

Kyle Larson (Credits:

Tony Stewart is the only driver to accomplish this feat, which he did in 2001. Stewart, who came from an open-wheel background, won the IndyCar championship in 1997.

While Larson shares a similar grassroot racing background with Stewart, he has never raced in an IndyCar event before and has only about 300 laps in the car.

Larson’s next track time at Indy will be on May 14 when preparations for the Indy 500 begin.

He is driving an entry co-owned by McLaren and Hendrick Motorsports, marking Rick Hendrick’s first entry in the Indianapolis 500.

Hendrick’s meticulous preparation has Larson feeling confident about his upcoming challenge. Hendrick had his team at last year’s Indy 500 to understand the schedule, logistics, and driver requirements, getting a sense of the event’s flow.

NASCAR legend Jimmie Johnson participated in the Indy 500 in 2022, but since he had retired from stock car racing, he wasn’t considering doing “The Double” like Larson.

He mentioned that the travel between Indianapolis and North Carolina, where Larson has to race in the All-Star event at North Wilkesboro Speedway during Indy 500 qualifying weekend, will be quite challenging.

Johnson highlighted the time and stress involved in managing both commitments. He was surprised by how much time is needed in May, especially at the Indy track itself.

The weather in Indianapolis will also play a role. If it’s dry, Larson can get valuable practice laps, but if it’s wet, and he has NASCAR conflicts, he might miss out on crucial track time.

Kyle Larson (Credits: SportsBible)

Larson’s schedule for May is still uncertain. A potential conflict might arise on “Fast Friday” when IndyCar practices clash with activities at North Wilkesboro. NASCAR hasn’t announced any penalties for Larson if he misses any events during the All-Star race weekend, scheduled for May 21, just after the Indy 500 qualifying.

He’s not sure if he can stay in Indy to try and win the pole position. Making it back to North Carolina for Saturday night’s heat races will be tough, too.

But he won the race at North Wilkesboro last time and wants the $1 million prize again, so his main worries seem to be about qualifying for Indy and making it to the All-Star race.

“The All-Star race has a $1 million prize for the winner, so it’s tempting for anyone to want to race for that,” Larson mentioned.

“But if our car is really fast for the Indy 500, it’s also hard to resist the chance to go for the pole position there. We’ll need to figure it out when we see the schedule.”


By Ritik

Ritik Katiyar is pursuing a post-graduate degree in Pharmaceutics. Currently, he lives in Srinagar, Uttarakhand, India. You can find him writing about all sorts of listicle topics. A pharmaceutical postgrad by day, and a content writer by night. You can write to him at [email protected]

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