CONCORD, N.C. – Kyle Larson took another step in his preparation for the 2024 Indianapolis 500 as he spent the day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Thursday.
The 30-year-old driver immersed himself in the atmosphere, got a feel for how Arrow McLaren does things and observed practice for this year’s race.
Next year, it will be Larson driving in the biggest open-wheel event in racing. As announced in January, he will run a Chevrolet entry fielded by McLaren Racing, co-owned by Rick Hendrick and carrying title sponsorship from HendrickCars.com.
PHOTOS: See Larson's day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
"It's something that I've wanted to do for a very long time," Larson said of racing in the Indianapolis 500. "I wanted to be patient and kind of wait for the timing to feel right. Having Hendrick Motorsports be extremely supportive of it, supporting the efforts with Arrow McLaren, it's something that I'm extremely excited about.
"To have Rick (Hendrick) and Jeff Gordon involved. Jeff told me that I get to live out a dream of his. That's really special to me.
"… I don't want to do this to just do it. I want to do it, take it serious and feel like I'm prepared enough to win."
Larson’s visit to the track marks the latest step in getting the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion acclimated to the world of IndyCar. Earlier this month, he was at Arrow McLaren’s race shop in Indianapolis to get fitted for his seat. He has been watching onboard footage to get a sense for the vehicle, the shifting and adjusting and gathering information from McLaren to enhance his learning of the nuances of IndyCar.
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"There's going to be a lot to soak in over the next year, and I look forward to the challenge," Larson said. "I love racing new vehicles to challenge myself and learn something new. I feel like ultimately it makes me a better race car driver.
"I think no matter the result throughout this whole experience, I think I'm going to become a better race car driver from it. I'm excited about all that."
Gavin Ward, the racing director at Arrow McLaren, expressed his team’s privilege in fielding an extra car for Larson in 2024 and being in this partnership. The team plans to start the 21-time Cup Series winner with simulator work, which will take place a stone’s throw away from Hendrick Motorsports’ Concord, North Carolina, campus.
"We're looking at all options really to get as much track testing or readiness," Ward said. "We're evaluating all that."
Gordon, who serves as the vice chairman for Hendrick Motorsports, shared his enthusiasm for not only Larson’s venture but for the collaboration with Arrow McLaren.
"On the Hendrick Motorsports side, it's building this relationship with Arrow McLaren so that next year we can do everything we can to maximize its full potential, get Kyle everything he needs and get Arrow McLaren everything they need," Gordon said. "Making sure that this effort goes as smooth as possible and gives them the best opportunity to get a great result."
Larson will be the fifth driver to run "The Double" – the Memorial Day weekend races of the Indianapolis 500 and the Charlotte 600-mile race. John Andretti, Tony Stewart, Robby Gordon and Kurt Busch are the others. Busch is the most recent to do in 2014, while Stewart (in 2001) is the only driver to complete all 1,100 miles of "The Double." No driver to attempt it has won either leg.