2024 Indianapolis 500 Coverage

2024 Indy 500 Central: Kyle Larson Updates, Storylines And More

2024 Indy 500 Central: Kyle Larson Updates, Storylines And More

Kyle Larson starts fifth in Sunday's 2024 Indianapolis 500. Does he have a shot to win? Here's everything you need to know.

May 27, 2024 by Kyle McFadden
2024 Indy 500 Central: Kyle Larson Updates, Storylines And More

It's 108th Indianapolis 500 race day as The Greatest Spectacle in Racing takes place at famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday.

Here is a blog-style notebook around Kyle Larson's shot at racing history as he tries to become the first driver to complete all 1,100 miles of The Double — every lap of the Indy 500 and NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 — on the same day. 

Lap 200: Larson Finishes 18th

Larson pushed through an up-and-down Indy 500 debut to finish 18th in his first appearance competing in The Greatest Spectacle Racing. A last-ditch effort to pit on 152 and running that tank of fuel through lap 183 put Larson in the lead for four laps through 17 laps to go. 

See here for complete 2024 Indy 500 results.

Lap 150: Speeding Penalty Hurts Larson

A pit road speeding penalty while pitting with 70 laps to go has plummeted Larson from fifth-place at the time of the violation to 21st. While that makes his chances to now win the Indy 500 rather mountainous, there's still a glimmer of hope for Larson, who pitted on lap 152 — off sequence from the leaders — during a caution for race contender Will Power.

Lap 100: Back Inside The Top-10

Larson has made his back inside the top-10 — riding eighth at the halfway mark — after a missed shift on the race's first restart shuffled him back to 14th. 

Even better, Larson is currently fifth among the drivers who last pitted on a lap-89 caution that involved third-running Colton Herta.

Lap 50: Larson Rides In 11th

Larson is 11th a quarter of the way through the 200-lap race of attrition. The fifth-starting Larson has regained five positions after slipping from sixth to 14th in a lap-nine restart, a hiccup that occurred when he missed second gear (he accident went from first to third gear).

What Time Does The 2024 Indy 500 Start?

(4:44 p.m. UPDATE): After a four-hour weather delay, the 108th running of the Indy 500 is green.

(3:30 p.m. update): Speedway president Doug Boles and INDYCAR announce that the Indy 500 will begin at 4:44 p.m.

(2:15 p.m. UPDATE): The weather advisory has been lifted and spectators can now safely return to the grandstands as stormy weather appears to have subsided.

(1:30 p.m. UPDATE): It's now been raining for roughly an hour at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Based on an 11:20 a.m. event operations update, IMS president Doug Boles hopes storms are cleared out of the area and that track drying begins no later than 3 p.m. so that the Indy 500 can start between 4:30 and 5 p.m. Read below for further updates.

(11:20 a.m. UPDATE): Prerace festivities ahead of the 2024 Indy 500 are under a holding pattern as a weather advisory has prompted spectators to exit the grandstands and seek shelter until further notice. Driver introductions were slated to begin at 11:47 a.m. with green flag originally scheduled at 12:45 p.m.

(10:30 a.m. UPDATE): Green flag for the 2024 Indianapolis 500 is slated for approximately 12:45 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, though expected rain storms are likely to throw a wrench into the scheduled start time. See below for weather updates.

NBC's live broadcast starts at 11 a.m. Last year's Indy 500 ended around 4:15 p.m. The race anywhere between three to four hours to complete.

Is Kyle Larson Staying For The Indy 500?

(11:46 a.m. UPDATE): Kyle Larson disclosed to NBC Sports on Sunday morning that he's intending to stick around and race the Indy 500 even if the race doesn't start on time.

The plan all along had been for Larson to jet to Charlotte Motor Speedway to race NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 directly following the Indy 500 and become the second driver since Tony Stewart in 2001 to complete all 1,110 miles of The Double — race every lap of the Indy 500 and NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600.

Even if Larson can't complete The Double, his two-year contract with the Indy 500 partnership between Arrow McLaren and Hendrick Motorsports puts him in position to try the 1,100-mile feat again next year.

Earlier this week, Larson's NASCAR car owner Rick Hendrick said "it would be very hard" to pull his 2021 NASCAR Cup champion prematurely from the Indy 500 so he can make it to Charlotte on time for Sunday's Coke 600 that starts at 6 p.m.

"It would be very tough," Hendrick added. "Would be very disappointing because of all the effort that everyone has put in, from Arrow McLaren to (McLaren Racing CEO) Zak (Brown) and the crowd, our marketing people. We've got a tremendous amount of folks there at Indy, and he's in such a good position, it would be extremely hard."

2024 Indy 500 Starting Lineup

Row 1: Scott McLaughlin, Will Power, Josef Newgarden

Row 2: Alexander Rossi, Kyle Larson, Santino Ferrucci

Row 3: Rinus VeeKay, Pato O'Ward, Felix Rosenqvist

Row 4: Takuma Sato, Kyle Kirkwood, Ryan Hunter-Reay

Row 5: Colton Herta, Alex Palou, Callum Ilott

Row 6: Marcus Armstrong, Ed Carpenter, Kyffin Simpson

Row 7: Marco Andretti, Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon

Row 8: Agustin Canapino, Sting Ray Robb, Christian Rasmussen

Row 9: Tom Blomqvist, Romain Grosjean, Linus Lundqvist

Row 10: Christian Lungaard, Conor Daly, Pietro Fittipaldi

Row 11: Katherine Legge, Marcus Ericsson, Graham Rahal

2024 Indy 500 Betting Odds

To win, per BetMGM:

Josef Newgarden +525
Scott McLaughlin +550
Scott Dixon +700
Kyle Larson +700
Will Power +800
Alexander Rossi +1000
Colton Herta +1000
Pato O'Ward +1100
Alex Palou +1300
Santino Ferrucci +1500
Helio Castroneves +2500
Rinus VeeKay +3000
Kyle Kirkwood +3500
Takuma Sato +3500
Felix Rosenqvist +4000
Marco Andretti +5000
Marcus Ericsson +6000
Ryan Hunter-Reay +6000
Callum Ilott +8000
Graham Rahal +10000
Ed Carpenter +10000
Christian Rasmussen +10000
Linus Lundqvist +12500
Christian Lundgaard +12500
Marcus Armstrong +12500
Conor Daly +12500
Romain Grosjean +15000
Agustin Canapino +20000
Kyffin Simpson +25000
Sting Ray Robb +25000
Tom Blomqvist +30000
Pietro Fittipaldi +35000
Katherine Legge +50000

Tracking The Weather

The sun rises above the Indianapolis Motor Speedway skyline on Indy 500 race day. (Chris Jones)

For those who don't know, Sunday's weather for the 2024 Indy 500 looks stormy. Various forecasts show storms approaching the 2.5-mile oval around 12 p.m. 

"Our plan right now is to continue to monitor that storm," Doug Boles, president of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, said in a 6:20 a.m. news briefing Sunday. "We do think we're going to get some sort of weather at some point today. Our biggest concern isn't the rain so much as it is the lightning and making sure our customers at the speedway are safe.

Boles added that "the next couple hours will define when that storm could hit Indianapolis, and we will want to make sure we inform our customers and let them know where we are (as far as amending Sunday's schedule) to give them time to decide what they want to do ... whether they hang at the Speedway or whether they want to stay in their cars or frankly whether they want to wait at home until they see how this weather comes together."

Does Larson Have A Realistic Shot To Win?

Kyle Larson poses in front of the Borg-Warner Trophy during May 22's Indy 500 Rookie Luncheon. (Titus Slaughter)

Last week, 2016 Indy 500 champ Alexander Rossi said boldly that Kyle Larson challenges Formula 1 champion Max Verstappen as the best driver on the planet.

Larson's backed that up with a convincing stretch of Indy 500 practices and qualifications, leading Fast Friday's speed charts for most of the afternoon, advancing to the Fast 6, and therefore earning a second-row starting spot for the world's biggest race.

He's won in virtually everything he's ever set his mind on and has even recently won a pair of debuts in new disciplines — last April in a UMP Modified at Ohio's Eldora Speedway and August 2020 in a Dirt Late Model at Port Royal (Pa.) Speedway.

So, all that said, 2018 Indy 500 winner and front-row-starting Will Power expects nothing short of quintessential Larson on Sunday.

"I expect him, honestly, to be capable of fighting for the win," Power told FloRacing last week. "I do. Like, this isn't ... as crazy of a place as it is, it's not the hardest place to get your head around. It's like, if the car is good, it'll be good — if you're a good driver."

So, does Larson himself think he could have a realistic shot of winning?

"Sure. I've kind of said all along if we execute a good race, we have a shot to have a good run," Larson told FloRacing last week. "I've never felt like I've had a shot to win. But I feel like as it's getting closer, I guess I'd be a little less surprised, maybe, just because I'm getting more comfortable."

Larson, as evidenced by his fifth-place starting spot and second-fastest non-drafting lap during Friday's Carb Day final practice, has the speed. The deciding factor then will very likely come down to pit road execution, which he's drilled about a dozen times ahead of Sunday but yet to experience during an official race.

"Monday was good because I got to do a lot of hard pit entries and do some pit stops and I felt really comfortable with all that," Larson said. "Those are two of many things that can really benefit your race or really hurt your race. I felt really good with all that. Pit road will obviously be busy here, I'm sure, at some points in the race. But I felt really happy."

Strategy Is Name Of Indy 500 Game

Kyle Larson rolls down Indianapolis Motor Speedway pit road during Carb Day. (Doug Mathews)

The Indianapolis 500 is unlike any other race because of strategy that so often dictates the outcome of the 200-lap race of attrition.

Let's put it this way: The last four Indy 500 winners have combined to lead 65 laps. The last to have led the most laps en route to Indy 500 victory lane is Simeon Pagenaud in 2019. He led 116 laps that day. Ryan Hunter-Reay in 2014 and Dario Franchitti in 2010 are the second- and third-most previous drivers to have landed in victory circle after leading the most laps.

For Larson and race strategist Brian Campe, strategy begins with cutting the race down into five pit stops, not six.

"The first thing you have to do is eliminate the (sixth) stop," Campe told FloRacing last week. "If you lead the whole race, it takes six stops. If you run second, third or fourth, you can do it in five. Your first box to tick for the 500 is to get the mileage you need to eliminate the (sixth) stop. Now, a caution at the right time can turn the race into a wide-open race where everyone can make it on five stops and nobody saving fuel, which for the fans would be super entertaining."

"But that's goal No. 1 so we can get the mileage to make it on five stops. Once we do that, we're trying to work the strategy so we can jump the guys we can on each pit exchange. It's hard to pass with new tires. If someone makes a mistake, you can pass. But after that it's a bit (of) follow-the-leader, especially if you have a hot day. If you get a cloudy, cool race, that's a different story. So, yeah, depending on the conditions, that can change the strategy."

The second goal then comes down to staying on sequence with the lead pack — optimally inside top-five on the last run — until the homestretch. Campe said that fuel runs without cautions vary between 28-34 laps.

"Goal No. 2 is to get the pit sequences right so that you can jump people on pit cycles," Campe sai. "That's pitting at the right time, having a fast stop, no mistakes. You do that five times, then it's OK, once you put the last tank of fuel in it, you go race for wherever you are. If you're in the top-five, you're racing for the win. If you're in the top-10, you're racing to get in the top-five and hoping to catch a caution."

Will Power, the 2018 Indy 500 champion, equates strategy to being "a positioning game."

"It's positioning to get yourself in that top-three to fight it out," Power told FloRacing last week. "It's more of a game of chess. You maintain that track position. It's more about that than it'd be at Iowa where you really have to work on the car, where you really have to understand the balance of sliding. Yeah, it's quite different.

Scott Dixon, a six-time IndyCar Series champion, stresses the importance of "having zero mistakes"

"If you have zero mistakes, then you might have an opportunity to win," Dixon told FloRacing last week. "You want a good car that's comfortable in the race where you can pass and be where you need to be. But you have to have zero mistakes, man."

Offense Or Defense?

Kyle Larson sits along Indianapolis 500 pit road before May 15's practice. (James Black)

The Team Penske powerhouse trio of Scott McLaughlin, Josef Newgarden and Will Power have been an offensive force being head above heels the fastest race cars up to Indy 500 race day.

That shouldn't be discouraging for Larson's sake because history shows the fastest cars don't typically win the Indy 500. Ask 2016 event winner Alexander Rossi, who won his Indy 500 in a fuel mileage race.

"Historically, you don't want to be the best car," Alexander Rossi told FloRacing last week. "I don't think Josef (Newgarden) was the best car last year. I don't think Helio (Castroneves) was the best car in 2021. I certainly wasn't the best car in 2016. There is no answer to that. It's cliche, but this place does choose the winner. You can have the best month of the year and the best month of your life and have it fall into your lap. It's hard to say."

As far as race pace itself, Campe says that Larson "doesn’t feel like he’s playing defense, at least," but "he doesn’t feel like he can be offensive with the car and get big runs and pass people.

"But he’s at least not on defense," Campe added.

Larson concurred, saying "I would agree with all that" but also added that "nobody can really pass other than the front three or four" drivers, alluding to the Team Penske trio of McLaughlin, Newgarden and Power and then Rossi's experience from the fourth-starting spot.

"It looks like there's a couple guys who can pass," Larson told FloRacing last week. "It's hard to judge who's on what sort of tire life in practice because everyone is on a little different strategy in practice and timing and all that. I feel good about my car. I feel good that we've qualified well. Hopefully we can stay up there and execute good pit stops and restarts, just stay up front and give ourselves a shot."

What Indy 500 Competitors Are Saying

Helio Castroneves, four-time Indy 500 champ: "As a driver, it doesn't matter what you drive. It's about the mentality. However, yes, he is very good. He has a lot to understand. The good news is he has amazing people in his corner. One of them is Tony (Kanaan). That's going to help him tremendously to speed up the process. But he will be good. He's definitely understood the game. It'll be fun to battle with him."

Scott Dixon, six-time NTT INDYCAR Series champ: "I always say sometimes it's a lot better not knowing anything, being in that situation of maybe not knowing what's coming or what to expect. I think he's in a good spot. He's got a load of experience with a good team. I don't thin expectations are high because it's his first time. Obviously he's an amazing talent and we know he's going to kick ass. But it's kind of nice to say 'it's your first time.' Hopefully, for him, a little more relaxing, too."

Scott McLaughlin, Indy 500 polesitter: "I think he's one of the world's best racers. I think he'll be just fine. ... He's a nice guy. I think, as you said, it's so cool he's doing this. It's great for IndyCar. It's great for NASCAR. It's great for the sport in general. I think he's a stud and I'm excited to race with him."

Will Power, 2018 Indy 500 champ: "I expect him, honestly, to be capable of fighting for the win. I do. Like, this isn't ... as crazy of a place as it is, it's not the hardest place to get your head around. It's like, if the car is good, it'll be good — if you're a good driver."

Alexander Rossi, 2016 Indy 500 champ: "What's crazy about Kyle is he doesn't need a lot of help. I don't know if that's crazy or not but if you see what he's doing, (you're like), 'That's right. That's pretty much how you do it.' I think for him, it's just the procedural stuff. We talked a lot about rules of how many pit boxes you can cross coming into pit lane. And how you do a restart. And all that. The racing part he should be just fine."

2024 Indianapolis 500 Race Day Schedule

*Pending weather; all times Eastern Standard

5:00 a.m. — Garage opens

6:00 a.m. — Team equipment/supplies enter pits

6:00-9:30 a.m. — IndyCar Ministry

7:00-8:30 a.m. — Mandatory tech inspection

8:00-8:15 a.m. — Track sweep

8:30 a.m. — Flag banner rehearsal on track

9:00-9:20 a.m. — Board/princess laps

9:00-9:20 a.m. — Push out to pit lane

9:20-9:40 a.m. — Sponsor truck laps

9:30-10:30 a.m. — Red carpet show

10:30-10:55 a.m. — IndyCars to the grid

10:37-10:44 a.m. — Indy winners lap

10:54-10:58 a.m. — Historic cars lap

11:00 a.m. — NBC broadcast goes live

11:25-11:27 a.m. — Military appreciation lap

11:27 a.m. — Drivers report outside green room

11:47 a.m. — Driver introductions begin

11:56 a.m. — 2024 Indy 500 class photo

12:14 p.m. — Grid formation

12:17-12:27 p.m. — Invocation and national anthem

12:28 p.m. — Drivers to cars

12:38 p.m. — Command to start engines

12:45 p.m. — Indy 500 green flag

4:00 p.m. — NBC broadcast ends

2024 Indianapolis 500 Coverage

Kyle Larson Indy 500 Coverage