Why Larson is at risk of being pulled from the Indy 500

Expectations for Kyle Larson finally making the Indianapolis 500 have been growing since the deal was first announced in January 2023.

Widely regarded as a generational motorsport talent, Larson qualified fifth on his debut at The Brickyard in his McLaren-Chevrolet at the weekend, becoming the first driver in 10 years to attempt to complete what is known as “double duty.” .

Two of America's biggest races are held on the last Sunday in May, during Memorial Day weekend – the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600.

Not since 2014 has Kurt Busch had anyone brave—or reckless—enough to attempt 1,100 miles in the same day.

Tony Stewart holds the best overall finish with sixth in the 2001 Indy 500 and third in the Coca-Cola 600 – but Larson's hopes of following up Smoke's efforts in 2024 may be about to be dashed – due to the weather.

Kyle Larson 2024 Indy 500

Larson's main priority this weekend is his day job and not his extracurricular activities at Indiana State.

That means scoring points and being in the Coke 600 in North Carolina is his most important focus, and if he needs to get past the Indy 500 to make it happen, he'll do it.

His team owner Rick Hendrick is not a man known for liking his drivers doing anything other than racing one of his Chevrolets in the Cup Series, but since Larson joined in 2021, he has softened that stance.

Larson can often be found racing on a dirt track when he's not in Cup duty, and he also has a 24 Hours of Daytona win on his resume for good measure.

But that doesn't hide the fact that winning the 2024 Cup Series title, and adding to his 2021 crown, is the main priority this year — and if that means being pulled from the Indy 500 field, that's what will happen.

Larson had an already tight schedule on Sunday as the 500 typically takes three hours to complete from the 12:45 p.m. ET start time.

The Coke 600 start is currently scheduled for 18:00 PM ET. Being generous, the drive from Indiana to North Carolina takes about two-and-a-half hours, leaving Larson with a 45-minute window to play with.

But there is a spanner in the works. the weather.

Could Larson be pulled from the Indy 500?

The current weather forecast calls for heavy rain and possible thunderstorms on Sunday, which could lead to possible delays.

If Larson races to the start of the 500, then retires during a rain delay in the rush to Charlotte, his No. 17 car will be parked for the day.

But if he withdraws before the race starts, McLaren will be allowed to name a replacement driver, who would likely be Indy favorite and 2013 winner Tony Kanaan, and he will return to 23rd place in the 500. McLaren is in talks with IndyCar about refreshing Kanaan. Who didn't drive at all in May after he retired.

Hendrick himself was asked what decision to make regarding Larsson, and admitted it would be difficult.

He explained in a press conference with McLaren driver Zak Brown: “This is a difficult question because we have talked about it many times, and we know that we need to be in Charlotte to get the points.”

“We'll let it go, and then me and Kyle and Jeff Gordon and… [Jeff] Andrews, we'll make that decision on Sunday.

“It will be very difficult [to pull Larson].

“It's going to be very difficult. It's going to be very disappointing because of all the effort that everyone has put in, from McLaren to Zak, the fans and our marketing people.

“We have a tremendous amount of people there in Indy that are in a good position, and it's going to be very difficult.”


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