Saturday, July 13, 2024

Larson dealing with excitement, nerves preparing for Indy-Charlotte double in May

Kyle Larson has a lot of work ahead of him before he becomes the first driver since 2014 to attempt to complete IndyCar‘s Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR‘s Coca-Cola 600 on the same day. But according to the 2021 Cup Series champion, things have been surprisingly easy so far before he steps into the join McLaren-Hendrick entry next year. “I thought it would be a full day process, and it was like an hour,” said Larson, explaining his introduction to IndyCar and the seat fitting process. “It’s like really? We’re done?”.

Reality set in more for Larson, McLaren, and Hendrick on Sunday morning in Indianapolis as the two parties revealed the two liveries set to race in their respective races, showing off the blue and papaya orange #17 entry for the 108th edition of the Indy 500. Larson’s usual NASCAR ride, the #5 Chevy for Hendrick Motorsports, will don a revised blue and orange scheme for the second half of the double at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Credit: Chris Jones/Penske Entertainment/Courtesy of IndyCar

Of course, it isn’t all easy goings for the 31-year-old. Larson faced a fair amount of trouble when trying out an IndyCar on a simulator for the first time, specifically with applying the brakes. When testing on the virtual version of Mid-Ohio, the engineers in attendance told him he needed “…a thousand more pounds of brake pressure.”, adding on that full-time McLaren IndyCar driver Felix Rosenqvist showed up later and put up a much faster time.

Racing in series besides NASCAR is nothing new for Kyle Larson. In fact, he may be even better racing on dirt in sprint cars, midgets, and late models, making a name for himself as recently as this weekend with a win on the dirt at the Knoxville Nationals in Iowa the night before Sunday’s Cup race at Indianapolis. But with all of his experience, driving an IndyCar around the oval at Indianapolis is an entirely new animal for Larson.

“…our goal is just to build up and get as much prep and seat time as we can, just to hit the ground running and be as prepared as possible come May.”

Gavin Ward – Racing Director, Arrow McLaren IndyCar team

With that being said, let’s take a look at how the 10 other attempts at double duty have panned out.

1994 John Andretti 10th 36th
1995 Davy Jones 23rd DNQ
1997 Robby Gordon 29th 41st
1999 Tony Stewart 9th 4th
2000 Robby Gordon 6th 35th
2001 Tony Stewart 6th 3rd
2002 Robby Gordon 8th 16th
2003 Robby Gordon 22nd 17th
2004 Robby Gordon 29th 20th
2014 Kurt Busch 6th 40th
According to Rick Hendrick, Larson will likely go through IndyCar’s rookie orientation program on the oval at Indianapolis in October. The program is split into three phases requiring drivers to run 10 laps between 205-210 miles per hour, 15 laps at 210-215 mph, and 15 above 215 mph.