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Everything You Need to Know About Kyle Larson’s Indianapolis 500 Attempt

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What’s Happening?

For the first time since 2014, a driver will be attempting the Coca-Cola 600 and the Indianapolis 500 on the same day. Kyle Larson will attempt both this year in a partnership between Hendrick Motorsports and Arrow McLaren. However, attempting Indianapolis is nothing like attempting an average NASCAR race.

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You Need to Know:

  • Kyle Larson is the first driver to attempt “The Double” since Kurt Busch in 2014. Busch finished 6th in the Indianapolis 500 before blowing an engine in the Coca-Cola 600 to finish 40th.
  • Since 1994, NASCAR drivers have attempted both races 9 times. Tony Stewart was the only one to complete all 1,100 miles in 2001. He finished 6th at Indianapolis and 4th at Charlotte.
  • Fans are excited to see Kyle Larson attempt the Indianapolis 500. It will be a historic day for him and every motorsports fan in the world.

Kyle Larson is NOT Guaranteed a Starting Spot

The Indianapolis 500 prides itself as a race with no guaranteed starting spots. No race team or driver whether they are full-time, part-time, a former winner, or a former Champion is guaranteed a spot at Indianapolis if there are more than 33 entrants. This includes Kyle Larson.

In 1995, none of Roger Penske’s drivers qualified. In 2018, full-time driver James Hinchcliffe failed to make the race. McLaren did not qualify in 2019 with 2-time Formula One World Champion, Fernando Alonso. These are just a few examples of prominent names not making the “500”

The Practice and Qualifying Schedule/Procedure

Practice Schedule

The Indianapolis 500 is more than just one weekend. There are multiple practice sessions over the two weeks leading up to the race, and qualifying is the entire weekend before the race. We will use the 2023 schedule as our guide.

The 4 days leading up to qualifying was filled with practice sessions. This includes “Fast Friday”, where teams set their engines up for qualifying. These sessions usually last the entire day. Larson will likely be in Indianapolis that entire week.

The week after qualifying, should Larson make the race, there is more practice. In 2023, there was one session on Tuesday after qualifying, and the final practice was on Friday, known as “Carb Day”. The following Sunday is the Indianapolis 500.

Qualifying Procedure

Qualifying was over the next two days, the Saturday and Sunday before the Indianapolis 500 week. In 2023, Saturday qualifying lasted from 11:00 am to 5:50 pm local time. After every driver set a 4-lap average, the cars were split into two lanes.

Drivers who choose lane one withdraw their previous time to qualify again. Lane two is for drivers who choose not to withdraw their previous time. However, everyone in lane one gets to go before anyone lined up in lane two.

Drivers in positions 1-12 on Saturday will qualify again on Sunday to determine the first 4 rows. Drivers who qualify 31st or worst move on to “Last Chance Qualifying” on Sunday. Drivers who qualify 13th-30th have their starting positions locked for the race. Anyone who qualified in the top 30 on Saturday made the field.

In 2023, there were three sessions on Sunday. First, was top-12 qualifying, where the top-6 make the “Fast Six”, and positions 7-12 start there on race day. Next is “Last Chance Qualifying”, where those who qualified 31st or worst compete for the final 3 spots. The slowest of those get bumped from the field. The final session is the “Fast Six”, which determines the top-6.

The goal for Kyle Larson is to be in the top 30 on day one of qualifying. That guarantees him a starting spot on Sunday.

How It Could Impact His NASCAR Schedule

The weekend of the Indianapolis 500 should not impact Larson too much. Coca-Cola 600 qualifying in 2023 was on Saturday, and there was no on-track activity at Indianapolis that day in 2023. However, the Indianapolis 500 qualifying weekend may be interesting.

Again, Indianapolis 500 practice and qualifying sessions are all-day affairs. The weekend of Indianapolis 500 qualifying is the NASCAR All-Star Race. The 2024 NASCAR All-Star Race is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. on Sunday, which is more than 2 hours after the latest Larson could finish up at Indianapolis. Making the race should be no problem.

Qualifying may be interesting. According to NBC Sports, Heat Race 1 in 2023 began on Saturday at 7:20 pm ET. If qualifying at Indianapolis ends shortly before 6 pm ET, Larson may have a tough time getting to potential heat races or qualifying sessions. With no guaranteed starting spot, Larson has to make absolutely sure he qualifies at Indianapolis.

Who is Arrow McLaren?

Arrow McLaren is relatively new to IndyCar, but they are a big name in motorsports. They have a rich history in Formula One with drivers like Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, and Lewis Hamilton. They joined IndyCar full-time in 2020, and they have won 4 races since joining.

Their Indianapolis 500 results have been a bit mixed. In 2017 and 2019, they brought Fernando Alonso to Indianapolis. In 2017, Alonso led laps before falling out with a mechanical failure, but he failed to make the race in 2019. Since joining IndyCar full-time, their best Indy 500 finish was 2nd in 2022 with Pato O’Ward. In 2023, O’Ward led the most laps before crashing out late.

This is a historic motorsports team, but they are relatively new to Indianapolis. Still, their recent success shows that Kyle Larson should make the race and have a very competitive car in May.

How will Kyle Larson do in the 2024 Indianapolis 500? Will he be a threat to win the race?

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