Kyle Larson

Livery of Both Cars Unveiled Sunday at IMS

Kyle Larson returned to Indianapolis at approximately 4 a.m. Sunday after winning the Knoxville Nationals on Saturday night in Knoxville, Iowa, the most prestigious sprint car race in America.

He stood at a podium in Pagoda Plaza at Indianapolis Motor Speedway just seven hours later, talking with IMS President J. Douglas Boles.

“I got a few hours (of sleep),” Larson said. “I was maybe too excited, I think, to fall asleep, and I woke up well before my alarm. I feel good. I feel fresh. I think I’ve trained my body for lack of sleep and being able to perform on Race Day, so maybe it’s all just preparing me for the double next year.”

The “double” to which NASCAR Cup Series superstar Larson referred is the "Hendrick 1100," in which Larson will attempt to race the 108th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge at IMS and the Coca-Cola 600 Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday, May 26. The colorful liveries for both of his Chevrolet-powered machines – the No. 17 Arrow McLaren NTT INDYCAR SERIES car and the No. 5 NASCAR Cup Series car – were unveiled Sunday morning under gleaming sunshine at a public event in Pagoda Plaza.

Larson drives in the Cup Series with Hendrick Motorsports, 10-time winners of the Brickyard 400 at IMS. The Indianapolis 500 ride is a joint effort between Hendrick and stalwart NTT INDYCAR SERIES team Arrow McLaren.

2021 Cup Series champion Larson, 31, will attempt to become the fifth driver to complete the Memorial Day weekend Sunday “double,” joining John Andretti, Tony Stewart, Robby Gordon and Kurt Busch in the undertaking that Charlotte Motor Speedway Executive Vice President and General Manager Greg Walter called “the Mount Everest of motorsports.”

Busch was the last driver to successfully attempt the double, in 2014. Stewart produced the most successful double in 2001, when he finished sixth at Indianapolis and third at Charlotte.

Larson, who started sixth in the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard on Sunday at IMS, is aiming even higher.

“I’m super excited to do it,” Larson said. “It’s been on my mind to do for a long time. I just never felt like the timing was right. I wanted to be able to fully commit to it and take the time that I needed to prep for it.

“Thanks to Rick (Hendrick), Jeff Gordon, everybody at Hendrick Motorsports for getting in touch with Arrow McLaren and putting this deal together. They’re one of the top teams in INDYCAR. They did a phenomenal job this year at the Speedway, so I hope they’re just as fast next year, if not faster, and we’ll have a shot for the pole and maybe a win.”

Legendary team owner Hendrick will enter the Indianapolis 500 for the first time as part of the Hendrick 1100.

“To be able to participate in the Indy 500, that’s a dream,” Hendrick said. “Kyle has an awesome amount of talent. We’re excited. This is an exciting moment for NASCAR, for INDYCAR.”

The logistics of competing in both races are being arranged, with quick transportation from IMS to Charlotte in time for the late afternoon start at Charlotte Motor Speedway. But Larson often races in short-track events at area tracks during Cup weekends, including the Driven2SaveLives BC39 at The Dirt Track at IMS. So, he is more than used to jumping among different machines on a weekend, with hectic timetables.

Still, Charlotte Motor Speedway GM Walter had one piece of advice for Larson when it comes to the Coca-Cola 600.

“Kyle, don’t be late,” he said with a smile.