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'A Dream Come True:' Kyle Larson’s Ambitious Pursuit Of Running The Indy 500, NASCAR Race In Same Day
The rare double feat is still a year and a half away, but Kyle Larson is pumped at the opportunity to show off his racing versatility.
In what has been a goal of his ever since childhood, Larson announced he is now set to race in the fabled Indy 500 in Indianapolis, Indiana during the 2024 IndyCar season. While he’ll be sponsored by HendrickCars.com, the ecstatic Larson will compete for McLaren Racing in a car fielded by its Arrow McLaren team and co-owned by Larson’s boss, Rick Hendrick.
"I'm super excited," Larson revealed in a news release. "Competing at the Indianapolis 500 is a dream of mine, and something I've wanted to do for a very long time — since I was a child before I ever began competing in sprint cars. To do it with Arrow McLaren and Mr. Hendrick especially is a dream come true.”
The legendary race is a thrilling test for any authentic wheelman, requiring ambitious drivers to grind out a grueling 1,100 miles of asphalt, but if all goes according to plan, part deux of Larson’s monster day behind the wheel will see him also trade paint during a 600-mile NASCAR Cup Series event in Charlotte, just a few hours later. Generally speaking, successfully completing the two same-day races is a very rare feat.
“I'm grateful for the opportunity and am really looking forward to it even though it's still about a year and a half away,” added Larson. “I'm really looking forward to competing in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 and maybe even get a win or two that day."
Larson’s journey to get to this point didn’t come overnight. Since 2021, Yung Money has been internally lobbying team co-owners Hendrick and Jeff Gordon to allow him to race in the IndyCar event.
"The first time I mentioned the 500 to Rick was at the end of 2021, and it seemed like it had some momentum for the first couple of months, and then things got quiet, and I had to bring it back up to Jeff quite a bit to keep the ball rolling," Larson explained. "This deal came together in a few months for them to iron out the details."
Due to the potential for unnecessary injury, team co-owner Hendrick has traditionally been hesitant to let his drivers compete in IndyCar races, but the renowned owner noted Larson’s passion to compete and perseverance in his quest was just too much to ignore.
"It's just one of those deals that Kyle has been adamant," Hendrick said, according to Fox Sports. "And he's convinced me to let him run sprint cars.”
Auto brand McLaren enters cars in both IndyCar and Formula 1 events in addition to multiple electric vehicle series. Stemming from his close ties to the league, McLaren CEO Zak Brown has long supported NASCAR from a marketing angle, making him nearly as excited as Larson.
"He's a complete driver, known for racing anything on wheels, so I'm looking forward to seeing what Kyle can do in an NTT IndyCar Series car," said Brown. "It's been great working with Rick Hendrick and [Hendrick executive] Jeff Gordon to pull this together, so a big thank you to them for what's to come in May 2024."
The fact that both teams field Chevrolets was the final push Larson needed to get Hendrick’s blessing.
"Putting Kyle in top-level equipment and allowing ample time for him to prepare for such a difficult challenge was important," Hendrick stated. "It's going to be very, very special to field a Chevrolet in the Indy 500 as a car owner.”
“A collaboration like this was what we needed to make it happen, and fortunately the stars aligned,” he added. “We're 100 percent committed to doing it right and look forward to working with Zak and his organization."
Larson’s about as versatile of a driver as there currently exists in the Cup Series. Prior to starting his NASCAR trajectory, he enjoyed a successful sprint-car career, and he’s also recently won several important late-model dirt races. If he’s successful in finishing both races, he’ll become the first Hendrick driver to complete the double.