Kyle Larson Reacts After Failed Attempt at Indy 500 & NASCAR Double

Kyle Larson

Chad Smith Photos Kyle Larson

For months, Hendrick Motorsports and Kyle Larson preached that NASCAR was the priority in his “Double” attempt. That was true, until it wasn’t.

There are various obstacles for a driver trying to race the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600, especially on the same day. From a logistical standpoint, that became quite clear on Sunday when rain delayed the start of the Indy 500 by four hours.

No one would have blamed him for leaving, and when his path to bail was there, he opted to stay in Indianapolis. The reality is that this was an exceptionally rare opportunity for Larson. Not only to race in the Indy 500, but to contend with one of the top teams.

Larson headed to Charlotte immediately after the Indy 500 ended, hoping to get into his No. 5 Cup car in the second half of the race. However, Mother Nature followed him.

Just as Larson had made it to his pit stand to strap on his helmet, rain began falling on Charlotte Motor Speedway. Had the race resumed, he would have been able to take over the reins from Justin Allgaier. Officials would eventually end the race, which was more than halfway complete.

The 31-year-old took to X (formerly Twitter) on May 27 with an emotional reaction to the day prior.

“What I thought could be one of the best days of my life quickly turned into one of the most disappointing ones I’ve ever experienced. … So much time, money, and effort went into this experience and it just kills me to have it all end the way it did. I feel like I let so many people down. We knew all along weather could throw a wrench into things but seeing it come to reality is a horrible feeling,” Larson wrote.

As for next year, when Rick Hendrick and Arrow McLaren announced this deal, it was for two years, according to the AP’s Jenna Fryer. Larson told media before the race that he wasn’t sure if he would be back.

Hopefully, he will, and Mother Nature won’t.

Speeding Penalty Dampered Kyle Larson’s Indy 500 Debut

After qualifying 5th and logging plenty of practice laps over the following week, Larson appeared comfortable in the car. He was able to run in traffic, perfect his timing, and execute pit stops. Getting onto pit lane is tricky, as he learned in the race.

On Lap 132, Larson was issued a speeding penalty on pit road that took him out of the top five. That took him out of contention, although he did lead four laps late in the race. He ultimately finished 18th but it was not indicative of his performance on Sunday.

“I would definitely love to be back next year,” Larson told NBC after the race. “I feel like I learned a lot throughout the race. Made a couple of mistakes early there with the restart. Not sure what I did wrong there. I somehow got myself into third gear and then felt like I did a really good job on the restarts and was able to learn a lot.”

“Definitely feel good about knowing what I would need different for the balance to help runs and stuff. Obviously, I smoked the left front on the green-flag stop and killed our opportunity. Proud to finish, but pretty upset with myself. Just could have executed a better race. You don’t know what could have happened.”

Larson Needs a NASCAR Playoff Waiver

Going into the Coca-Cola 600, Larson was the Cup series points leader. NASCAR rules require a driver to “start” every race of the regular season to be eligible for the playoffs. Larson will need to be granted a waiver by the series to qualify for the playoffs.

Hendrick was not able to formally request a waiver until Larson missed the race. It may take some time (Memorial Day holiday) for NASCAR to make a decision, but they have been lenient in the past. Kyle Busch (2015) and Chase Elliott (2023) were both granted waivers but missed races due to injuries.

This situation is different, but considering the buzz and attention that Larson’s attempt has garnered, it would be surprising to see NASCAR deny the team’s request.

Rick Hendrick is the most successful and longest-tenured owner in NASCAR. They have been working on this idea for nearly two years. If this were a late plan put together for Justin Haley and Rick Ware Racing, the result might be different. Hendrick and Larson have done enough for NASCAR to do the right thing.

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