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Kyle Larson

Source: Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment / other

SPEEDWAY, Ind. — Kyle Larson is one of the most versatile racing drivers in the world. His racing pedigree ensures that that statement is not hyperbole.

“I think he now knows what the high line is like, the low line, traffic, dirty air, wind direction change, and he’s been exploring that within his own comfort zone,” said McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown. “I think everyone recognizes the talent it takes to go out and qualify fifth in your first Indy 500 when you’ve never raced an INDYCAR, and so a huge admiration for him.”

Larson is attempting “The Double,” the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 (1,100 miles) in one day.

A native of Northern California, Larson came up through racing and winning championships on the dirt tracks racing midgets, and USAC Silver Crown. When he entered upper-level professional racing, Larson won a season championship in his first and only season in the K&N Pro Series East.

Working his way up the ranks, Larson found himself driving for Chip Ganassi’s NASCAR team (sold to Trackhouse Racing in 2021) for seven seasons where he won six races in seven seasons. He was due to continue his rise with Ganassi when his viral use of a racial slur during an iRacing event in 2020 nearly derailed his career.

With no ride in NASCAR in 2020 because of a suspension, Larson went back to his roots and competed in the full World of Outlaws late model season. Cementing his ability to code-switch between driving disciplines, Larson dominated winning the World of Outlaws season title.

Larson was back in the NASCAR Cup Series with Hendrick Motorsports the following year in 2021 and won 10 races en route to his first Cup Series championship. He clinched the Cup Series regular-season championship as well.

“He’s always felt like super confident. If he’s nervous, he doesn’t show it too much. He just believes in his ability,” said Rick Hendrick. “Once he gets in the car and gets comfortable, he wants to race.”

For Brown, Larson’s reputation has reached beyond the shores of the East Coast. Formula One drivers always watch the Indianapolis 500 with intrigue once their annual race in Monaco has concluded the same day. He said it’s even more so with Larson in the field.

“I think the racing community is big and small, and they all pay attention to the various forms of racing and have a lot of respect for all the different disciplines,” Brown said. There will be a lot of eyes glued to the TV and certainly wouldn’t be surprised if that included all 20 Formula 1 drivers.”

“We’ve seen Formula 1 drivers coming to NASCAR and win Formula 1 races and struggle in NASCAR,” he added. “Juan Pablo Montoya, who’s an awesome racing driver, and Dario Franchitti, et cetera, so I think everyone has a tremendous amount of respect for how difficult other championships are.”

Only a handful of drivers have ever attempted The Double in recent history: those being John Andretti, Davy Jones, Tony Stewart, Robby Gordon, and Kurt Busch. Only Tony Stewart has ever gone the full 1,100 miles.

Larson needs clear weather and a clean race this coming Sunday at IMS to have a shot. The big question remains…. what if he wins? Will he stick around for the festivities knowing he has another race in Charlotte, North Carolina just hours later?

“That’s a tough question because we’ve talked about it many times, and we know we need to be at Charlotte for the points,” Hendrick said. “We’re just going to let it play out, and then Kyle and myself and Jeff Gordon (Hendrick Motorsports chairman). We’ll make that decision on Sunday.”