With 500 days left until the 2024 Indianapolis 500 — yes, you read that right, 2024 — the 108th greatest spectacle in racing now has its first driver entry, one that steals the show at its best.
Kyle Larson, the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion and the legendary dirt track racer, joins Arrow McLaren, with the support of NASCAR boss Rick Hendrick, to run the 2024 Indy D in May. The 30-year-old Californian will (pending 2023 entry) soon become the fifth driver. Double race across IndyCar and NASCAR on Sunday Memorial Day weekend.
Similar to Kurt Busch, the last driver to attempt the Double in 2014Larson will have more than a year to build up his Indy car familiarity through testing opportunities that will likely include a day at non-IMS ovals, as well as running the Rookie Orientation Program before his debut in May, as many rookies have done in years.
His tradition for his Indy 500 debut, as well as his car number, will be announced at a later date, but his entry will be coordinated by Hendrick and will carry the championship title from HendrickCars.com — the primary sponsor in the Cup series for Larson for his No. 5 Chevy-powered ride.
“Competing in the Indianapolis 500 is a dream of mine and something I’ve wanted to do for a long time – since I was a kid, before I started competing in race cars,” Larson said in the release. “To do this with Arrow McLaren and Mr. Hendrick, especially, is a dream come true.
“I’m really looking forward to it, even though I’m still about a year and a half away.
The 2021 Coca-Cola 600 at CMS was Larson’s second of 10 victories over the past two years in which he quickly became a dominant performer on the road. First Cup title in maiden season with Hendrick Motorsports. To date, Larson has won 19 points-paying Cup appearances as well as the 2019 and 2021 All-Star race and the 2014 Rookie of the Year award.
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Next year’s 500 will mark Hendrick’s first foray into an IndyCar career for the team owner whose stock car teams have won 291 points all-time in Cup races. NASCAR also holds the winning streak in IMS ovals with 10 400 Brickyard wins on 2.5-mile ovals (Jeff Gordon, 5; Jimmie Johnson, 4; Kasey Kahne, 1).
“Having the opportunity to support Kyle, partner with an elite team like McLaren and promote HendrickCars.com in one of the world’s great auto racing events is truly unique,” Hendrick said in a release. “Putting Kyle in top-level gear and allowing him ample time to prepare for such a difficult challenge was important.
“The collaboration was just what needed to be done, and fortunately the stars aligned. We are 100% committed to doing good and look forward to working with Zak and his organization.”
After raising his hand as one of the few in the NASCAR world as possible candidates who could follow in the footsteps of Busch, Robby Gordon, Tony Stewart and John Andretti, Larson looked like he was ready. run to D this year as McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown tried to ride the name of the major in a one-off ride alongside three full-time car drivers Pato O’Ward, Alexander Rossi and Felix Rosenqvist. Larson, Hendrick and Gordon (vice-president of Hendrick Motorsports) had preliminary talks with Brown’s squad, but a deal could not be reached for both parties.
Additionally, McLaren’s IndyCar arm has also brought in Kurt Busch’s younger brother Kyle, after it was revealed later that the Cup teams and manufacturers will be in 2023 Chevy and Richard Childress Racing from Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing. The younger Busch made it clear at the outset of his long-term intentions to do “The Double” and his ability to finally pursue such an opportunity that Toyota and Gibbs had previously blocked. In the end, however, Brown said he would prefer an experienced driver who is guaranteed to have the talent to compete for the win. Arrow McLaren has signed that 2013 D-winner and 2022 3rd place finisher Tony Kanaan.
With Kanaan already hinting at IndyStar next year, his 22nd appearance at Racing’s biggest show could very well be his last, although he has said he won’t be entering this May with a firm plan. In an Arrow McLaren release about the addition of Larson, he said, “an opening in the 2024 lineup”, indicating that Kanaan’s tenure at Arrow McLaren will almost certainly be one-of-a-kind as the team considered bumping up to four full cars in 2024 as Larson would be their fifth driver.
There is still a chance that Larson’s attempt at “The Double” will be preceded by Johnson, who said earlier this week that he is still considering the opportunity to make the 500 with Chip Ganassi Racing – the team he ran a full IndyCar campaign with in 2022 before leaving. It’s full time racing Pursuing the right to ownership took place with what is now known as the Legacy Motor Club (formerly Petty GMS) with Richard Petty and Maury Gallagher. Johnson started in the moment to solve his debut in his No. 84 Chevy to the Daytona 500, and he also said he wants to run a few other races in the 2023 Cup — including possibly an all-star race that directly competes. with a module for D, then Coca-Cola 600 in an attempt to add “Double” to its hall recall.
This article first appeared in the Indianapolis Star: Kyle Larson will lead the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on the same day in 2024