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Kyle Larson Ranked Second in ‘Fast Friday’ Practice for Indianapolis 500

Photo Credit: Joe Skibinski, IMS Photo

It has taken Kyle Larson virtually no time whatsoever to adapt to competing in the NTT IndyCar Series… and given his resume, that shouldn’t be a surprise.

By the conclusion of Friday’s six-hour practice session, the NASCAR Cup Series champion had posted the second-quickest time in his No. 17 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet, lapping around Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 38.4171 seconds (234.271mph), just over a tenth of a second slower than session-leader Colton Herta.

“I think I have to play it by ear and see how much you’re off or whatever,” Larson said after practice. “The Penske cars seem fast, [Alexander] Rossi seems fast. I feel like the McLarens are the next best to the Penske cars. Just kind of see where you are on the speed and then adjust.”

Logging more than 30 laps around Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday, Larson was finally able to hit the racetrack without the looming threat of weather, or the natural detriment that came from losing on-track time due to a precautionary engine change on Thursday.

“I felt like the one run where I felt closer to the limit, I would’ve made it a fourth lap,” Larson added. “I guess that’s not a fun feeling being on the limit, I guess, in this place. Overall, it was a decent day. Good to have it go smooth for once with no weather delays, or anything pop up. Just happy about today.”

The 31-year-old driver was also ranked among the top-10 drivers in Friday’s practice when it came to a four-lap qualifying simulation, which will be crucial on Saturday, as the Elk Grove, California native reaches the most important part of his Indianapolis 500 journey — excluding the race itself, of course.

“I think our car balance was in a comfortable spot that allowed me to be a little bit calmer in the car,” the Hendrick Motorsports driver commented. “If I went out there and felt on the limit of the rear tires, I would have felt like I was probably going a lot faster. I think they did a good job to deal with the balance and keeping me comfortable.”

Without any kind of mechanical failure or mistake on the part of Larson during qualifying, the Arrow McLaren pilot should have no issues qualifying for the 108th Indianapolis 500, as even his single-lap speed, with no help whatsoever from the draft, ranked inside the top-15.

So, what are Larson’s expectations for qualifying this weekend?

“I’m not sure,” said Larson. “I think it’d be pretty neat to make the Fast 12, and then the Fast Six. I think that’d be pretty neat, but being a rookie, I don’t know if that’s to be expected, but it’d be pretty cool to make that and be in the front couple of rows of the race. Just want to get a good, smooth run in and make the show first. Being the top rookie in qualifying would be cool as well.”

For Saturday, Larson’s full focus will remain on qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 and potentially returning to the racetrack on Sunday for a shot at the pole. However, the 25-time NASCAR Cup Series winner won’t return for the All-Star Heat Races, meaning the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro will start at the rear of the field.

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