Conor Daly

Mother Nature interrupted a day of learning for Kyle Larson at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Arrow McLaren/Rick Hendrick driver circled the 2.5-mile oval just twice Tuesday in his No. 17 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet.

Despite the lost track time, 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion Larson isn’t in panic mode as he prepares for his first attempt to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.

Larson is attempting to become the fifth driver to complete the “double” of racing in the Indianapolis 500 and the NASCAR Cup Series’ Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on the same day. Kurt Busch was the last to achieve the feat, in 2014.

“I think for us like these first few days, it's a lot of race running and traffic running and just trying to learn as much as we can with the car and with myself to get prepared for the race,” Larson said. “Then, I think Thursday or Friday, that's when you start focusing on qualifying some more. I don't necessarily have a checklist of things for me. I think that's all just going to naturally kind of pop up every time I go out to the racetrack. I think something new is going to happen that I learned or figure out or present more questions to ask about and learn.

“So, I'm sure it's going to be the same way these next few days. I think eventually you'll probably get comfortable and then you can really fine-tune your brain a little bit to be more relaxed and stuff. So right now, everything's happening very quickly. It’s so busy, and my awareness is super high. But I think as I get more of that, hopefully it becomes second nature.”

Larson credits Tony Kanaan, sporting director for Arrow McLaren, for helping him digest the ample amounts of information he’s receiving. 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner Kanaan does a great job of simplifying the data and advice, Larson said.

“I think everybody, between media or engineers, make everything such a big deal,” Larson said. “And I think Tony has been really good at saying, ‘Oh, that’s not that big of a deal’ or whatever. That’s been good.”

Larson gets back on track from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. ET Wednesday, with practice airing live on Peacock.

Penske Names Crew Subs for ‘500’

Team Penske announced Tuesday the personnel to fill in for its four suspended NTT INDYCAR SERIES team members for the 108th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.

Jon Bouslog, one of Team Penske’s longest-serving team members, moved from the team shop role as special projects manager to be Josef Newgarden’s strategist in last weekend’s Sonsio Grand Prix. For the “500,” Bouslog shifts to become Will Power’s strategist for the No. 12 Verizon Business Team Penske Chevrolet. Power’s usual engineer, David Faustino, served last weekend as an engineer and race strategist.

Paulo Trentini Filho remains as Power’s data engineer for the second consecutive race, filling in for Robbie Atkinson. Likewise on the No. 2 Shell Powering Progress Team Penske Chevrolet of Josef Newgarden, Raul Prados remains as engineer for the second consecutive race.

Prados serves as lead race engineer for Penske’s Porsche IMSA program and worked with Newgarden in the Rolex 24 At Daytona in January. Newgarden said he works with Prados for probably 90 percent of the track action and feels comfortable with him leading the way for the his effort to become the first back-to-back winner of the “500” since Helio Castroneves in 2001-02.

Jonathan Diuguid is replacing Tim Cindric as the strategist on Newgarden’s car.

“I felt this last weekend, I would be happy to plug into any one of our cars at Team Penske,” Newgarden said. “I'm not worried about that. We have really good data, and we know all these individuals really well.”

Knicks’ Fan McLaughlin behind Enemy Lines

Team Penske driver Scott McLaughlin also is a massive NBA fan. His favorite team? The New York Knicks.


The Knicks are playing the Indiana Pacers in the second round of the NBA Playoffs. With McLaughlin in town for last weekend’s Sonsio Grand Prix and preparing his No. 3 Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet for the 108th Running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 26, he went to Game 3 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in downtown Indianapolis after qualifying last Friday. The Pacers won.

“It was one of the most amazing experiences,” McLaughlin said. “Such a cool ending. As much as I didn't like the ending, big respect to the Pacers’ fans. That place is unreal, Gainbridge Fieldhouse. I went with Colton (Herta). We had a blast. That place was so loud. I've never experienced anything like that.”

McLaughlin has attended NBA games, but this was his first playoff experience in person. He said even while ruffling some feathers talking about the Pacers with the home fans, he didn’t find it awkward cheering for the opposing team.

McLaughlin said he won’t be converted to being a Pacers fan because he doesn’t want to be considered a “bandwagon” Knicks fan, either.

The fandom started when he was younger. His parents visited New York when he was a kid. They brought home McLaughlin a New York jumper as a souvenir. Plus, the NBA is one of the only American sports on TV in his native New Zealand, so the Knicks became his team.

His fandom was sealed because his wife, Karly, is from the metropolitan New York area. His first live NBA game was in Madison Square Garden.

“I’ve got a huge affection for the Knicks,” he said.

McLaughlin said he’ll watch Game 5 of the playoff series May 14 in his bus in the infield of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, yelling at the TV. The series is tied, 2-2.

Power Helps Young Fan Meet His Idol

Bennett, a 7-year old Scott Dixon fan, was outside the media bullpen Tuesday patiently waiting to catch a glimpse of his favorite driver. Unfortunately, Dixon isn’t scheduled to meet with the media until Wednesday morning. When told Dixon wasn’t in the media bullpen area just outside of Gasoline Alley, the young fan began crying, thinking he missed out on a chance of seeing Dixon.

Will Power noticed the young fan and tried to help. He called Dixon to learn of his whereabouts but didn’t get an answer. So, Power, a Team Penske driver, walked Bennett and his family into Gasoline Alley to try and find Dixon.

Power went to Chip Ganassi Racing’s garage to inquire about Dixon. The team told Power that Dixon was probably eating lunch and gave him the most likely spot where Dixon would be. Power led Bennett and his family in that direction and when they walked in, Dixon was there.

Two-time series champion Power walked Bennett over to Dixon, and the six-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion happily met his young superfan and graciously autographed Bennett’s shirt that was a Christmas gift.

When Bennett’s father asked him about the moment, he smiled and said, “It was so cool!”

Odds and Ends

  • Romain Grosjean earned the distinction of being the first driver on track on Opening Day, in the No. 77 Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet. Since “first on track” became a stat in 1984, no driver has won the “500” after being the first car on track. The best finish is second by Helio Castroneves (2014) and Marco Andretti (2006). The first car on track won the NTT P1 Award twice, with Team Penske’s Ryan Briscoe being the lastest, in 2012.
  • Following a pair of on-track spats Saturday on the 2.439-mile IMS road course, Grosjean and Santino Ferrucci found each other early in opening day of Indianapolis 500 practice. Grosjean slowed coming through the pits at pit exit on the north end of pit road and Ferrucci’s No. 14 AJ FOYT RACING/SEXTON PROPERTIES Chevrolet was directly behind. With what looked like another tense moment, Ferrucci said all clear as far as he’s concerned. He said it was fine – Grosjean just wanted clear track. “In my head, it’s over,” Ferrucci said.
  • The NTT INDYCAR SERIES announced Tuesday the official debut of the hybrid technology for July 5-7 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio presented by the 2025 Civic Hybrid. Graham Rahal said it’s a good track for the hybrid debut but feels slightly overwhelmed as a driver because that weekend is going to arrive quickly after the hubbub of the Month of May and a busy June schedule of races. “We’ll adapt to it,” he said. “We were very fast at Mid-Ohio last year so hopefully we can be fast again.”
  • Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver Pietro Fittipaldi said the biggest difference between competing in the Indianapolis 500 as a full-time driver like this season and part-time like 2021 is rust. When showing up as a rookie for Dale Coyne Racing in 2021, he had to build up to speed. This year, he’s raced the full season and said the cadence is aggression, on pit stops and in and out laps. “It’s much better when you’re doing the ‘500’ and the whole season because you just arrive much more in tune,” he said. “I think it’s, for sure, important and very helpful.”