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Kyle Larson Worried with Weather Forecast; Hopes to Complete Hendrick 1100 on Sunday

Kyle Larson Hendrick 1100 Memorial Day Double Indianapolis 500 weather Coca-Cola 600 Arrow McLaren Hendrick Motorsports

Photo Credit: Craig White, TobyChristie.com

Kyle Larson has spent the entire month downplaying the logistics involved with his bid at completing the Memorial Day Double, where the full-time Hendrick Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series driver will attempt to complete 1,100 miles of racing between the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 this Sunday.

However, heading into the weekend, there is an unfavorable weather forecast for Sunday’s Indy 500. According to @IndyCar_WxMan on X, Sunday is expected to start off cloudy at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the chances of weather, including severe thunderstorms, becomes increasingly more likely as the day goes on.

The forecast has the 31-year-old Larson, who is potentially the most even-keeled guy in the garage area, a little bit worried.

“I think you could look at the forecast and get worried now,” Larson said during a Thursday media availability.

While severe weather threatens the viability of Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 being finished on time for Larson to make it to Charlotte Motor Speedway in time for the Coca-Cola 600, or being run on Sunday at all, Larson says he has no idea what the final plan will be if push comes to shove with the potential weather.

“I don’t know anything. I have no answers for you guys as far as decisions and all of that,” Larson explained. “I don’t think anybody does at this point. I think it has to come down to game time decisions and playing it by ear. Yeah, I don’t know. Hopefully the weather gods work out for us, and we get both races in.”

While Larson says he, Hendrick Motorsports and Arrow McLaren don’t have a definitive plan in place, he says that he would imagine as the driver, he would have a final say in whatever the decision is whenever it’s time to make one.

“I’m the one behind the wheel so I would think I have some sort of play in logistics and all of the decisions,” Larson stated. “But again, I think it all comes down to game time and figuring it out on the spot. You have a plan, and there’s backup plans for the backup plan, and then backup plans for that plan. You just don’t really know until it comes down to the moment.”

If the weather can hold off, the native of Elk Grove, California would become the fifth driver in history to complete the Double, which is something that he’s dreamt of since his childhood. Larson, as most racecar drivers do, loves challenges, and is excited to compete in the Indianapolis 500.

“I’m sure when I was really young, I knew what the double was. I think my love for driving lots of different types of vehicles made me kind of be intrigued about doing something that challenging,” Larson said. “Yeah, my goal was always to make it to the NASCAR Cup Series, but within that goal, I still wanted to compete in the Indy 500. I’m glad that is going to be able to become a reality and get to do something that only four other drivers have done to this point.”

While the racer is excited, the looming weather threat could dampen some of the fun. Larson says he would feel like he’d be missing out a bit on the Double experience if either race is moved to another day due to weather.

“Well, I mean, the first thing is I would love to get both races. I would love to complete both races. Whether that’s on separate days, or whatever, I guess. But yeah, it’s the double right. Is it truly the double if it’s on the same day? I don’t know,” Larson questioned. “In a perfect world, I would love to have it all happen on the same day to have done it. But I would for sure be, even if we got both races in, I would for sure probably be a little bit bummed that I wasn’t able to do both in the same day. But I think I would be happy, happiest though if I did get to run both and didn’t have to come out of one car. We’ll see how it goes. Hopefully, the weather ends up working out for us.”

The weather is out of Larson’s control, but the rest of the variables, such as transitioning between the two vastly different race cars is squarely in his hands. After a test run last Sunday, where Larson navigated Indianapolis 500 qualifying day and then flew to North Carolina to compete in the NASCAR All-Star Race, Larson feels confident.

Larson says he didn’t experience any problems swapping from the fast and nimble IndyCar back to the heavier stock car.

“No, nothing. Nothing,” Larson answered when asked if there were issues swapping from one car to the other. “I was really happy with how it all went. I was surprised at how quickly I felt like I got up to speed because basically [North Wilkesboro Speedway] was a new race track that I had never been to before. Last year, it had the old pavement and all of that. This year, it had fresh pavement, and it raced completely different. I felt pretty good about things and how quickly I got up to speed. I would imagine Charlotte will be fine — not that I didn’t think it wouldn’t be, but it was just good to get a little practice run in so to speak.”

With any possible nerves about swapping from the two distinctly different race cars put to bed, Larson also feels he is all set from a physical standpoint for the potential 1,100 mile marathon between two different tracks, in two different states in one day.

As Larson already partakes in one of the most intense racing schedules of anyone in motorsport today, he’s already conditioned to compete at multiple racing facilities in the same weekend. Larson will simply continue to focus on his hydration and sleep schedule.

“I think just for me, I race so often that I stay pretty well in shape. But I have taken my training a little more serious the last couple of years. I just think to do the double, you just have to stay ahead of your hydration and your sleep a little bit,” Larson explained. “So, been trying to sleep a little bit more, and just stay on top of the hydration like I said, and we’ll have an IV lined up on the airplane. Hopefully, all of that will go smooth, and we’ll be fine. I feel like I’m as fit as anybody is when it comes to racing.”

And as far as preparing for this weekend’s Coca-Cola 600, while being fully engrossed in his first Indianapolis 500 start, Larson says his week hasn’t been too different from what he’s used to as he is a driver.

While a lot of drivers deep dive into SMT data, and simulator sessions, Larson goes for more of an oldschool letting it all come to him method from behind the wheel. That has helped this Memorial Day Double attempt be seamless for Larson.

“Honestly, this week hasn’t been too different than a typical week for me,” Larson explained. “I’m usually most of the time gone for my team meetings anyways, so I call in for them, and called in to our meeting this morning and went over all of our 600 stuff. I’m sure there’s drivers that do way more prep than i do. I don’t really do a whole lot.”

If both races on Sunday go off without a hitch, Larson would seemingly be a threat to win in each race. He’s shown incredible speed, despite his overall lack of experience in an IndyCar this month.

Despite weather erasing a lot of on-track time, and issues with the motors in his Arrow McLaren race car causing him to miss more practice time, Larson has been near the top of the speed charts in just about every session he has competed in, and he’ll roll from the middle of Row 2 in the Indianapolis 500 as he qualified fifth for the race.

As far as the NASCAR Cup Series event, Larson is expected, as always, to be in the conversation for the race win. Larson, the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion, has two wins already this season, and both wins came at 1.5-mile intermediate ovals like Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Larson says that after a subpar Coca-Cola 600 last season, where he finished 30th after a Lap 378 crash, his team worked hard on honing in the intermediate racing package, and he feels they are as good as any team in the garage at this style of race track.

If Larson can somehow win the Indianapolis 500, he will set the Stage to potentially do the unthinkable, and win both crown jewel events on Sunday, but he’ll need the weather to cooperate to make it happen.

Still, the fact that it even seems possible with a couple of days until race day, is truly remarkable.

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