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Danica Patrick Weighs In on "Tall Challenge" Facing Kyle Larson in Coca-Cola 600, Indy 500 Same-Day Feat
The Hendrick Motorsports wheelman will also attempt to run the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day in 2024.
From dirt domination to asphalt annihilation, give Kyle Larson four wheels and a steering wheel, and he’ll figure out how to deliver you a victory. He’s just that good. Arguably America’s most versatile driver, Larson has proven to be capable of winning on nearly every stage he sets his sights on, and now the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion is revving up for The Greatest Spectacle in Racing: the Indianapolis 500.
But there’s a catch. Not only will Yung Money run the legendary Indy 500 through a partnership between Arrow McLaren and Hendrick Motorsports, the 30-year-old from Elk Grove, California fully plans to also race in NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 that very same day.
What did Danica Patrick say about Kyle Larson attempting the Indy 500?
Knowing a thing or two herself about competing in both the IndyCar series and NASCAR’s top flight, Danica Patrick fully believes Larson can be successful when he attempts the 2024 Indianapolis 500. Patrick, the most successful woman in the history of American open-wheel racing and the only woman to win an IndyCar race (2008 Indy Japan 300), credits No. 5’s ability to adjust to whatever conditions evolve on the day, according to USA Today.
“With a guy like Kyle and a good team, there’s always a chance to win the Indy 500,” Patrick revealed to USA Today’s For The Win on Thursday. “Especially because usually there’s a high chance of two strategies working: The fast strategy, the leader strategy, and then something off-strategy because there are so many pitstops and there’s so much that happens in the race.”
“But it is hard, no doubt,” added Patrick. “It is a tall challenge to feel really good in the car when it’s not what you do because open-wheeled cars are very different than stock cars. And I know he drives open-wheeled cars, but most of the time, when he’s driving an open-wheeled car, he’s on dirt and not going 240 [miles an hour] on pavement.”
“It’s so hard to have a good day anyway,” Patrick continued. “I have no doubt [Larson will] have a good day.”
Why would Kyle Larson competing in the Indy-Charlotte double header be such a feat?
Exhaustion, fatigue, dehydration — competing in two races in one day is not for the faint of heart. The epic feat Larson will attempt requires an unwavering will as the Indy-Charlotte doubleheader tests both the mind and the body over 1,100 grueling miles of high-octane action. If successful, Larson will become just the fifth driver ever in NASCAR’s history to race in the Indy-Charlotte double feature, accompanying Robby Gordon, Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch and John Andretti on the esteemed list. Larson’s idol Stewart enjoyed the most successful run in the back-to-back events, finishing sixth in Indianapolis and third in Charlotte when he completed the Herculean feat in 2001.
What did Kyle Larson say about racing in the Indy 500?
Talking to IndyCar on NBC, Larson beamed with excitement as he made his announcement that he plans to race in the Indianapolis 500.
“It’s something that I’ve wanted to do for a while,” Larson explained. “I just wanted to wait till the timing was right, and I feel like the time is right now to do it, you know, kind of live out a dream of mine and my dad’s and Jeff Gordon's and even Rick Hendrick’s, so I obviously want to do a good job.
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“I want to, you know, obviously win the race too, but I know how difficult it [Indy 500] is,” he added. “You know, I try to keep expectations realistic. These are the greatest IndyCar drivers in the world, and I’ve never raced one, but I think, you know, if I prepare right, and study and focus, I can do a good job.
"So, I’m just excited and a little bit nervous, I guess, but more so excited than anything.”
Assuming Larson qualifies for the Indy 500, he’ll first tackle Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s 2.5-mile track over the course of three strenuous hours before jetting off to Charlotte for the iconic NASCAR Cup Series race. According to USA Today’s For the Win, though Patrick said she would be sure to have IV bags ready for the plane ride between the two locations, cultivating an impervious mental fortitude is the most difficult element Larson will need to prepare for.
“He’s a pretty cool customer; he doesn’t really get too up or too down,” Patrick noted. “But I think still just being able to have the amount of relaxation in the morning that it takes to keep your energy conserved for the race itself at Indy, and then not feeling frantic after it’s over with to hurry up and get to the Coke 600.”
“Just staying calm through all that while then going and driving 1,100 miles at 200 miles an hour — I mean, that is a lot,” she added. “That is a very big shift between staying relaxed in the morning, turning it on for the race, relaxing in between that and the Coke 600 and then turning it back on. ...
“His capabilities to be able to drive both cars and do all those miles is good,” Patrick continued. “It’s just, how much energy can you conserve in the in-between during that day, so that you have the most amount of focus and energy for the job itself?”