NASCAR ‘is the priority’ as Indy/Charlotte double looms for Larson

Kyle Larson said his priority is NASCAR as his schedule picks up over the next two weeks while attempting the Indianapolis 500 and Charlotte Coca-Cola 600 double.

On Saturday at Darlington Raceway, Larson was asked about a worst-case scenario surrounding the most significant race day in the United States on May 26. Larson, if all goes as planned, will have qualified his for Arrow McLaren entry for the Indianapolis 500, which is scheduled to start before 1pm ET. Afterward comes the trip to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Coca-Cola 600 in his regular Hendrick Motorsports entry.

But, as Larson was asked, what happens if he starts the Indy 500 and there ends up being a delay that affects how quickly it finishes? Who makes the call about whether he stays or leaves?


“Hopefully that doesn’t arise but I’m not sure who the one is to make that call,” Larson said. “I’m sure there is a window of time that when it probably gets to a certain point, I have to leave because the Coke 600 is the priority that weekend, and chasing another NASCAR championship is the priority.

“I just hope that it doesn’t come about. But I think Tony Kanaan is there as a reserve if something like that does happen to fill in for the 500. Yeah, just pray that doesn’t happen.”

Kanaan would only be able to fill in from the start of the race. He could not get in the car in the middle of the race if Larson had to leave.

The agendas begin to flip flop beginning this week. Larson’s first priority (before any other scenario could come into play) is to qualify at Indianapolis, and he’ll get on track for practice starting Tuesday, May 14. There are also practice sessions scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday.

Larson will stay based in Indianapolis for Friday and Saturday. On Friday, Larson will participate in Indy 500 practice before the qualifying draw. Kevin Harvick, meanwhile, will practice and qualify Larson’s car at North Wilkesboro Speedway for the NASCAR All-Star Race. Saturday is the day of the heat races to set the lineup for the All-Star Race.

There are no current plans for Larson to arrive at North Wilkesboro Speedway before Sunday night’s All-Star Race. However, the schedule could begin to change if inclement weather affects either the Indianapolis or North Wilkesboro schedules.

Another variable is where Larson winds up in Indianapolis 500 qualifying. Should Larson clock in 13th through 29th on the grid during his runs Saturday, he is not required to return Sunday. It clears the way to easily proceed to North Wilkesboro, where the priority is for him to run the feature race.

Sunday at Indianapolis would be for those still trying to bump into the field and the Fast 12.

Larson hopes to qualify and race his Arrow McLaren according to plan, but it all depends on the undependable Indianapolis weather… Chris Jones/Penske Entertainment

For Memorial Day weekend, things are easier if everything goes as planned. Larson will be in Indianapolis for Carb Day (Friday, May 24) and participate in the parade and public drivers’ meeting (Saturday, May 25) before traveling to Charlotte Motor Speedway for Cup Series activity. Cup Series drivers are not scheduled to be on track for practice until 5:05 p.m. ET before qualifying for the Coca-Cola 600.

How about another scenario where Larson needs a backup driver for the Coca-Cola 600?

“No, I haven’t heard that yet,” Larson said. “I guess maybe those are all last-minute calls, I think, where I’ll probably just like try to manifest a perfect weekend in our minds. So, maybe behind the scenes, they’ve been working on that.

“I think it all depends on some weather and stuff and forecasting what that might look like and maybe plans will change. But I don’t know.”

Story originally appeared on Racer