Kyle Larson getting IndyCar seat fitting soon as he prepares for his 2024 Indy 500 debut
Kyle Larson plans to be at Indianapolis Motor Speedway next month for Indy 500 practice, and though he won’t be driving, the Hendrick Motorsports star will have a seat.
Larson said during NASCAR Cup Series qualifying Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway that he will be getting fitted for an IndyCar cockpit within the next couple of weeks as he prepares for his Indy 500 debut next year with Arrow McLaren.
“I don’t know of other plans outside of that yet, but at least having the (seat) insert ready to go and all that for if something does come up for a test,” Larson said in response to a question from NBC Sports’ Dustin Long. “So I’m excited about that. It’s exciting, and I look forward to hopefully learning as much as I can over the next couple of months but then even past that.”
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When the 2021 Cup Series champion’s Indy 500 deal was announced in January, McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown said he hoped to have Larson test a Dallara-Chevrolet this year and also attend an IndyCar race to get a feel for the Arrow McLaren workflow during an IndyCar weekend.
Larson told Long that he was texting Hendrick Motorsports vice chairman Jeff Gordon and president Jeff Andrews last week about settling on an Indy 500 practice day to attend.
The 2.5-mile oval will be open May 16-19 for practice leading into Indy 500 qualifying weekend. NASCAR will hold its All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway the same weekend with Cup cars on track May 19.
“I really don’t have a lot of time to be there a lot,” said Larson, who won the most recent Cup race at Martinsville Speedway. “But I do want to get at least a full day of practice there just to sit in on a debrief and see how the communication works and what type of stuff they describe and really just get a sense for what goes on behind the wheel, in the paddock and all that.”
Larson said he also planned to talk with Kurt Busch (who finished sixth in the 2014 Indy 500 as a rookie) to understand the physical demands of driving 230 mph at the Brickyard.
“I just want to get a sense for how did they steer differently than a stock car,” Larson said. “What was the weight of the wheel like. What were the G forces like.”
It’s been a decade since Larson made his last visit to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May as a race day guest of Chip Ganassi Racing for the 2013 Indy 500. Larson, who was driving full time for Ganassi in the Xfinity Series before moving to Cup in 2014, remembers a special tribute to Boston Marathon runners who were in the event that was affected a month earlier by a terrorist bombing.
“That was like the coolest fan experience I’ve had in my life,” Larson said. “I’m not really able to be a fan that often. Even being a competitor, I would have gotten the same emotions. I just remember it was cool. I got to walk with the Ganassi drivers and team through Gasoline Alley leading up to the race. The fans were going crazy, and the fans knew who I was, which was really cool at that time. I wasn’t even a Cup Series guy yet.
“They did something cool with a lot of the people who have competed in the Boston Marathon to finish their race on the frontstretch. It was just really cool. There was a sea of people. Just the atmosphere was unmatched for any event I’ve been to, so that was all really neat as a fan. And getting to experience that as a competitor next year is going to be something I’ll never forget. Because I haven’t forgot that, and I (was) just a fan.”
After a one-day Open Test concluded last week, the 107th Indy 500 is slated for May 28 (race broadcast at 11 a.m. ET on NBC).