Kyle Larson is a guy, who likes to stay busy behind the wheel of a race car. After competing in the NASCAR Cup Series Busch Light Clash at the LA Memorial Coliseum on Saturday, Larson was back behind the wheel for an IndyCar test session at Phoenix Raceway on Monday.
The test was originally scheduled for Tuesday, but with weather threatening the forecast, the test was moved to Monday afternoon.
The test served as additional time for Larson to get familiar with the No. 17 Arrow McLaren / Hendrick Motorsports machine that he will pilot as he attempts to race in the 108th Indianapolis 500 later this season. Larson logged a lot of laps and even made an incredible save when the car kicked out from under him at one point in the several-hour-long session.
“Yeah, I thought it went smooth,” Larson said of the test. “Got three or four hours in of laps, I think five sets of tires. Yeah, it was good to run through some things, get comfortable out there making laps, but get to do some pit stop sort of stuff. Got loose at one point and almost spun out, so that was good to kind of feel the limit there at slower speeds. Kind of just worked through some balance stuff.”
Obviously, the 1-mile Phoenix Raceway is a completely different beast from the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but Larson feels it was good to give himself the reference point of running at a track, where the car isn’t totally glued to the track with high speeds and downforce.
“I think it was good for me to go to Phoenix. It’s a totally different racetrack and all that,” Larson explained. “The banking through three and four is not too different than Indy. Like, I mentioned earlier, I had a few moments where I was uncomfortable. I thought that was good to feel at 190 or whatever we’re going, 180 maybe in the corner, compared to going 220 at Indy, having the moment, being surprised by something. I think that was a benefit.”
As for the moment Larson was most uncomfortable, it had to be on his final run of the session. Larson says that the car had gotten tighter and tighter throughout a run all day long, but on that final run, the car went the complete opposite way and he wasn’t expecting it. However, he was able to wrangle the car.
“We went to do a long run, had different air pressures and stuff to start. The car felt a lot different early in the run. I kind of had my mind made up that it was going to build tighter,” Larson said. “It was like starting to get loose pretty quickly. I was a bit confused, wasn’t quite expecting that. I was trying to make adjustments on the weight jacker and things like that.
“Yeah, just got caught off guard a little bit. I had some warnings a few laps before. I went into INDYCAR turmoil. Got a little bit loose into the corner, got to the apex. As I was leaving the bottom, it just started to get sideways. Was able to catch it.”
Larson got a chance to click off roughly 200 laps in the session, and at the end of the day, he felt like the additional reps had put him in a much better place as he now presses on his path to attempting the “Hendrick 1100” in May.