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Kyle Larson reflects on passing Indy 500 rookie test

LAS VEGAS – The Indianapolis 500 dream for Kyle Larson took the next step towards reality earlier this week when Larson passed his Rookie Orientation Program test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. 

Photo by Dominic Aragon/TRE

The test puts Kyle Larson on the doorstep of driving in the 2024 Indianapolis 500, as he’s now earned the right to qualify for the brickyard’s biggest race.   

Tony Kanaan, the sporting director of Arrow McLaren, has been front and center in Larson’s IndyCar quest.

“Tony’s great, I’ve gotten to work with him in the past. We were teammates at Ganassi with the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona,” Larson said. “So having a history with him, he’s so easy going. He can talk to anybody and make them feel good so I’m happy I have him in my corner.” 

The test at IMS was comprised of three stages: 10 laps at 205-210 mph, 15 laps at 210-215 mph and 15 laps topping 215 mph.

Larson would max out his car at 221.187 mph. 

“Thankfully I was by myself so you can get up to speed at your own pace and you don’t have to worry about other things,” Larson said. “It went really smooth, the cars obviously have a lot of grip by yourself. It’s fast, for sure.” 

According to Larson, his team knocked it out of the park with preparation heading into the test. 

“I felt like McLaren and (Kanaan) did a really good job of prepping me and making it where nothing surprised me,” Larson said. 

As someone with the variety of experience with different race cars, the Indy 500 just adds to the feathers in Larson’s cap. The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion compared the NextGen car to the IndyCar car. 

“Obviously your seating position is different,” Larson said. “The steering is different, there’s no power steering. So it definitely has its differences, but when you’re by yourself, it doesn’t feel way different than qualifying today. We’re running wide open around here, but you know you’re close to having to lift so I’d say something similar to that.”  

Larson will be the fifth driver in NASCAR history to attempt the double on Memorial Day Weekend. 

It’s never a break for the driver of the No.5. Just this week, Larson also took home the High Limit Sprint Car Series title. 

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