CONCORD, N.C. – Brian Campe's wealth of experience in the IndyCar world makes him the perfect conduit between Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports and Arrow McLaren as the driver attempts to make the Indianapolis 500. 

Campe, the technical director for the 14-time NASCAR Cup Series championship-winning organization, will be Larson's radio communicator and strategist. His voice will be the primary one that the 31-year-old driver hears around "The Brickyard." The Alabama native offered a succinct sports analogy to describe his role with Larson before further explaining how the group will collaborate. 

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"The way I have described it is I am like the special teams coach on the New England Patriots in the (Bill) Belichick-(Tom) Brady era (that won six Super Bowls)," Campe told We've got Brady in Kyle (Larson) as the driver, Arrow McLaren is Belichick and I'm the special teams guy. If it comes down to late in the fourth quarter or something, I can't miss a field goal. Otherwise, I'm probably doing an OK job if you don't talk about me.

"There are four (Arrow McLaren) engineers dedicated to Kyle (Larson). We will work together on how we want to play the race, when we want to take tires, when we want to stop for fuel, when Kyle needs to save fuel, and when he needs to push and go and try to pass cars. All that is on the group on the timing stand, but I am lucky enough to push the button."

Campe's track record in IndyCar speaks for itself. During a 12-year run at Team Penske, he worked with the organization's NASCAR Xfinity Series program and then shifted to the IndyCar world. On the open-wheel side, he was the race engineer for Juan Pablo Montoya's 2015 Indianapolis 500 victory and the chief engineer for the first of Josef Newgarden's three IndyCar championships in 2017. 

Get your gear for the #Hendrick1100 now 

In 2022, Campe returned to Hendrick Motorsports to run the aero department – he had previously been with the organization from 2005 to 2008 ahead of a stint at Hendrick Motorsports affiliate JR Motorsports in 2009. In Campe's current role as technical director, he oversees a group of approximately 50 engineers, whose job is to build race cars for the team that they can take to the track and optimize. His background in the spec cars of the IndyCar world made him a strong addition as the Next Gen car was making its debut, which led to a change in approach in how Cup Series cars were developed and constructed with single-source parts.

Larson is excited to have Campe in his corner and his ear. Campe's IndyCar ties sunk in for the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion following his immersion experience around an Indy 500 practice day in 2023. 

"When we walked in there, all these race fans and mechanics were coming up to him," Larson said of Campe. "I was like, this guy is like a celebrity around here. That was eye-opening to me. Before I knew all this, I thought from our competition meetings that Brian Campe was super intelligent but I didn't know his background. Once we got to Indy, it all made sense why he is who he is.

"He's well respected, has a great résumé and is a really smart mechanic and engineer. You want all the best people in your corner and he's a smart guy."

In what is being called the #Hendrick1100, Larson is aiming to run the Indy 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday, May 26. As announced in 2023, the prestigious Arrow McLaren team is preparing the effort for Larson's Indy 500 run. is sponsoring both efforts and team owner Rick Hendrick will be the car owner. This marks the NASCAR Hall of Famer's first foray into IndyCar ownership. In August, the livery for both cars was unveiled in Indianapolis.

So far, Larson has had three significant on-track experiences behind the wheel of an IndyCar. He completed his Rookie Orientation Program at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in October of 2023, ran laps at Phoenix Raceway in February of 2024 to get more seat time and was on track for a weather-shortened test at Indianapolis last month. In that test, Larson laid down the second-fastest lap of the opening session. The Elk Grove, California, native has also done extensive work in the simulator and with the folks at Arrow McLaren to get prepared as quickly as he can. Campe believes that Larson's mentality of racing as much as he can in all sorts of vehicles serves him well in his ability to adapt.

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"I think it speaks to his acumen in any race car," Campe said. "It is hard to surprise Kyle Larson with something he may not have felt or seen before in a race car. Tony Kanaan (sporting director for Arrow McLaren and the 2013 Indy 500 champ) has been there the whole time and Kyle asks him many interesting and curious questions. He also asks me and the rest of the Arrow McLaren group questions. His curiosity, his humbleness and his calm approach are three things that lend him to being successful.

"We as a team have to speed up to Kyle's speed at which he learns, picks up on things and does what he is supposed to. We identified some areas where we will have to support Kyle with his lack of experience in IndyCar. He has never been able to adjust the car himself, the balance of the car with the tools—the front and rear bars, the weight jackers, and all those things. We will be the ones to prompt him to do that and he will be busy."

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The Larson-Kanaan connection is one of several shared ties between Hendrick Motorsports and Arrow McLaren. Larson was a teammate with Kanaan for the 2015 Rolex 24 At Daytona, where they were part of the race-winning team. Campe and Arrow McLaren team principal Gavin Ward worked together at Penske.

"Their approach to the 500 is great," Campe said of the famed IndyCar team. "The way they collaborate amongst the four teams is something that we are striving for at Hendrick Motorsports and we are improving every week. Through our partnership with Chevrolet, I hope those conduit lines stay as wide open as possible."

The next two weeks — starting with practice on May 14 and culminating in the Indy 500 on May 26 — will see Larson get plenty of on-track time. Campe and the Arrow McLaren group want to maximize Larson's track time. The more he sees and feels in the car will help in the feedback he can provide. The different situations Larson can experience in the draft and around other cars will help show the series regulars in the IndyCar field that Larson is an equal; they can be confident racing around. 

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That said, though, there is still plenty to learn. The challenge of qualifying at the Indianapolis 500 (on Saturday, May 18, and Sunday, May 19) is unlike anything Larson has faced in NASCAR.

"We still have a steep learning curve," Campe said. "We haven't done an entire tank run yet. Every day, step-by-step, we have to build confidence in the car, build Kyle's confidence and anything that doesn't support that has to be reassessed and go in the other direction.

"Those four laps of qualifying — I'll be interested in getting Kyle's take after the fact — are the hardest thing in any form of motorsports. From my perspective, having been on the stand and made those decisions to set up a car a certain way and then asking those drivers to go out there and hold it flat for four laps and run it right up to the edge. You have to because the field is so tight, which is what you get with spec racing. I can feel my knees shaking on top of the stand, standing there and getting nervous just talking about it."

Larson is attempting to become the fifth driver to run "The Double." John Andretti, Kurt Busch, Robby Gordon and Tony Stewart are the others. Busch was the most recent to do it in 2014, while Stewart (in 2001) was the only driver to complete all 1,100 miles of "The Double." No driver to attempt it has won either leg. What would a successful showing be in Campe's eyes?

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"It would be a success to go there, be competitive and be in the conversation when it comes down to the end of the race. Certainly, if we have a chance to win, we will do everything we can to do it. If we can do it, that would be history in and of itself."