Kyle Larson

Today’s question: Which driver are you most looking forward to seeing at the Indy 500 Open Test next week?

Curt Cavin: There are several good choices here, but my newfound intrigue centers on Nolan Siegel. I still don’t know a lot about the young Californian, but I watched him during a series of recent interviews – in person and on television – and his maturity is off the charts. I kept thinking he’s got to be closer to 24 than 19, and his perspective shines through. I’ve gone back to study his career path, including his time in sports cars, and he is certainly ahead of the pace one would expect. Now, I’m not expecting miracles in this first trip to Indy, but the winner of three INDY NXT by Firestone races who showed well in The Thermal Club $1 Million Challenge in his NTT INDYCAR SERIES debut will be a fascinating study with Dale Coyne Racing.

Arni Sribhen: Allow me to answer for 90 percent of the racing world. KYLE LARSON. The end. Yes, we’ve already seen the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion on the oval at IMS in an INDYCAR SERIES car. But when Larson passed the Rookie Orientation Program at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last fall and tested at Phoenix in February, he was driving the only car on the track. No dirty air. No one to pass. The Indianapolis 500 Open Test is with nearly everyone else who will be vying for an Indy 500 starting spot, and all comparisons will be apples to apples. All we’ve heard since January 2023 is, ‘How will Kyle do against everyone else at Indy?’ Next week will be a decent indicator of what to expect when “Yung Money” takes on the Hendrick 1100 in May.

Paul Kelly: I’m keeping a firm eye on Christian Lundgaard because I think a revived oval program by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing is the last ingredient the Dane needs for true championship contention this season. Lundgaard and teammate Graham Rahal repeatedly said during the offseason that improving the organization’s oval performance was a focal point, so we’ll see if that sharpened attention will start to bear fruit at the test. RLL certainly cannot afford a repeat of last May’s qualifying weekend debacle, in which Lundgaard qualified 31st and Jack Harvey 33rd, and Rahal failed to qualify. This team is too good for that to happen again, and if RLL can play in the same neighborhood as teams with strong IMS and oval programs, then I think that could be the launchpad for elite-level stardom for Lundgaard, who already has proved he’s one of the best road- and street-course drivers in the series.