Kyle Larson, McLaren, Indianapolis, 2023

Larson wants to “feel I’m prepared enough to win” in 2024 Indy 500 debut


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Kyle Larson paid a visit to the McLaren team he will race for the 2024 Indianapolis 500 during today’s practice session for this year’s race.

The 2021 NASCAR Cup champion said he’s eager to learn as much as he can ahead of his debut in the race next year.

“It’s obviously very exciting,” he said. “It’s been something that I’ve wanted to do for a very long time.

“I wanted to be patient and wait for the timing to feel right. Having Hendrick Motorsports be extremely supportive of it and supporting the efforts with Arrow McLaren is something that I’m extremely excited about.”

Larson already has experienced of the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval from NASCAR’s visits to the circuit. “I’ve obviously come here a lot in a stock car, I lived in the area for a couple of years. So this this place for a long time felt like home or a second home to me.

“In my opinion this is the biggest race in the world. You want to be a part of the big ones and hopefully someday you’ll be a winner of a big event.”

He spent six years driving for Ganassi in NASCAR but never sought an opportunity to drive for their IndyCar team before being fired by them during the 2020 season.

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“When I was with Chip Ganassi Racing in the NASCAR stuff I think a lot of people – and maybe myself at times – thought that I would go immediately and try and compete in Indy 500 for Chip. But I wasn’t as accomplished yet in the NASCAR stuff and I wanted to be able to not feel like I was taking a ton away from that.

Larson will swap his NASCAR for an IndyCar
“Now I’ve been able to accomplish a lot in the NASCAR stuff, Hendrick is obviously always a consistent front-runner, so I felt like you could take a little bit of focus away from that to run the Indy 500.”

He said he is serious about competing at the front in his one-off appearance next year. “I don’t want to just do this to do it, I want to do it and take it serious and feel like I’m prepared enough to win.

“I feel like I’m surrounded by great people and looking forward to the opportunity. I’ve got 300 and some-odd days left to try and get ready.”

Larson is already familiarising himself with McLaren’s set-up at the circuit this weekend. “I think having this much time, knowing that I’m racing next year, I’m definitely going to pay more attention to all of these days than I would have in the past, kind of see how that all goes just to be really more prepared for how the couple of weeks of on-track time goes for next year,” he said. “Just to not be surprised by anything new.

“It’s been nice even being here in the short amount of time we’ve been here today just to see how they have everything laid out and the hospitality where the team hangs out or eats and the engineering room, stuff like that. I didn’t know any of that before I got here today and this is the only day I’m going to be able to come this year. So even just getting to get eyes on all that will help little things like that for next year.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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5 comments on “Larson wants to “feel I’m prepared enough to win” in 2024 Indy 500 debut”

  1. Good outlook. Out of anyone in Nascar, I see him as one with the most potential racing other classes. Open wheel racing is definitely different to racing cars with fenders and a lot of good drivers do not do well with both mediums, only a special few.
    It will be interesting to see how Larson does, I would also love to see him race open wheels on a road track like Laguna Seca and see how see performs against seasoned Indy drivers; after getting comfortable & some time in a Indy car, I bet he would do pretty well?

    1. Larson is an accomplished open wheel driver in Sprint and Midget Cars. Albeit on dirt. His driving style on dirt is super smooth and well transferable to pavement. One thing eurocentric may not realise is that drivers like Larson drive race cars probably 250 days a year. Between Nascar, World Of Outlaws, Super Modifieds, etc. there are race meetings nearly everyday. With any number of car owners ready to slot a name driver into their cars. Good money in appearance fees as well.

      It is staggering the sheer volume of races and racers that compete on the dirt in the USA.

      1. Gerrit,

        While this is true, I think most Nascar drivers came out of dirt track racing and worked there way up (at least the older ones) but I do not think many of them transferred well into open wheel racing on hard pavement (road tracks). I do have to say that I’m pretty impressed by some of nascar drivers who shine regularly on tough road tracks and school well respected road racers (ringers) who are brought in by a team to score more points. I bet Larson could have a great career in Indy racing and could see him being in the top 10 a lot.

        I wish we could see more nascar drivers who do well on road tracks in other classes like Indy but I can totally understand them sticking to Nascar contracts as you can make significant money with a very long driving career sticking to Nascar compared to other racing classes.

      2. CD (@clipperdael)
        19th May 2023, 10:09

        Yeah, they mentioned during the practice broadcast last night he came to IMS straight from some midweek event at some local track in Ohio. It’s crazy the amount of racing some of these drivers do.

  2. That’s great news! It will be super interesting to have another actual champion in IndyCar, let alone Indy500 – and a current one at that, not one from the past.
    Jimmy Johnson was way past his prime but has already proven than Nascar drivers’ oval skills translate very well onto Indycar oval racing.

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