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Kyle Larson Says Indy 500 Is 'The Priority' Over Coke 600

Kyle Larson Says Indy 500 Is 'The Priority' Over Coke 600

Even amid weather delays Kyle Larson plans to prioritize the Indianapolis 500 over the Coca-Cola 600, putting his Double attempt in limbo.

May 26, 2024 by Kyle McFadden
Kyle Larson Says Indy 500 Is 'The Priority' Over Coke 600

A decision appears to have been made around Kyle Larson's attempt at The Double, the 1,110-mile feat of racing the Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 in the same day.

The Elk Grove, Calif., superstar told NBC Sports during the network's Indy 500 prerace show he plans on making The Greatest Spectacle in Racing "the priority" despite stormy weather delaying the start of the 108th running of the event.

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"I think our plan is to keep this as the priority," Larson told NBC Sports. "Yeah, I think I would be here racing. But I'm actually bummed about that in a way because I just want it to rain out today. With the rain coming, I would rather the storm be bigger and last here longer. It looks like there's going to be tin hat window where we might be able to get it dry to race at some point today. Then obviously that affects things for the 600. Yeah, it's still weather, so you don't know how it's going to be exactly.

"I don't know. I would say the worst-case scenario is happening, which is just a bummer more than anything. But we'll get to get on track in something at least today. That's exciting."

The goal all along had been for Larson to become the first driver since Tony Stewart in 2001 to complete every lap of the Indy 500 and Coke 600. But now with the Indy 500 under a holding pattern for weather for more than an hour as of 12:30 p.m. (green flag was slated for 12:45 p.m.), Larson's highly touted attempt to accomplish the rare mission is now in limbo.

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 could 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."

An event operations update from Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Doug Boles revealed the hope that the storms could clear out in time for track drying to begin between 2:30 and 3 p.m, which would hypothetically put the Indy 500 start time around 4:30-5 p.m.

Sunset at the Speedway is 9:03 p.m., though overcast skies wouldn't be much of a help.

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"Again, we still have to wait and see how that comes across," Boles said. "Right now the most important thing is the safety of our customers. The thing we're fearful of the most right now is the lightning. We want to give fans as much time as possible to implement their own safety plan."

Larson said every decision revolving around The Double attempt on Sunday remains fluid.

"It's kind of spur-of-the-moment decisions and factors. We'll see," Larson told NBC. "We don't know exactly how big this storm will be or what the weather behind it looks like. I know there's rain coming behind this first storm. I just don't know how long after. I'm sure that will factor into any decision whether we get this race in today or not. I'm sure they want to get the full distance in when they start this race."

Boles, meanwhile, couldn't confirm nor deny if Speedway officials are aiming to complete all 200 laps should the race start Sunday. Reaching lap 101 would make the race official.

"I don't think we've talked about that other than that sunset is at 9 o'clock," Boles said. "Ideally we'd like to start the race with the idea that you could get 500 miles in. But right now we're completely focused that our fans and customers are safe."

Even if Larson cannot see through the attempt at The Double, his two-year Indy 500 contract with a partnership between Arrow McLaren and Hendrick Motorsports puts him in position to try the 1,100-mile feat again next year.

Larson added to that, saying he has a "hope to do (the Indy 500 and Double) more in the future," decisions and logistics that don't merely come down to his simple yes or no.

"It's not just my decision," Larson told NBC. "I think it's everybody within Hendrick: Rick Hendrick, Hendrick Automotive Group, Hendrick Motorsports. I think we're all part of the decision. Jeff Gordon, Jeff Andrews. And there's just been so much time and investment to make this Indy 500 happen. I mean, it's been a buildup for over a year. We need to run it. And I want to. We have a really good shot to run and potentially win. So, I want to be here.

"I just wish it'd all work out and we can get both races in and the full distance. I don't care if it's on the same day. I just want to race both races the full distance. But we'll see."

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