Arrow McLaren’s Tony Kanaan hails “complete driver” and “best of his generation” Kyle Larson

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Photo credit: Penske Entertainment | James Black

After 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Larson passed his rookie orientation practice in preparation for running the lndianapolis 500 next season with Arrow McLaren, Larson acknowledged and praised his supporting cast, from crew chiefs in dirt tracks to NASCAR owner and sponsor Rick Hendrick. “I’m just very lucky that I get to be driving these cars. Obviously it takes a lot of hard work on my part, all that, to get to that point. But still, I’m very fortunate to be in the position that I am in all different types of racing.”

Larson also has a knowledge base to work off of from NASCAR drivers who have raced at Indianapolis in the past. “Tony [Stewart] told me[…] Danica [Patrick] was texting me last night, same thing. Kurt [Busch], Jimmie [Johnson]. They’ve all said the same thing.”

That thing was reminding Larson to trust his instincts as he’s becoming acclimated to running an Indycar. Arrow McLaren sporting director and 2013 Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan admitted there will be a lot of items for Larson to absorb.

“Think about you have a wheel with 25 buttons, then you have the weight jacker, front bar, rear bar. You have telemetry you can analyze. Engineers, they’re just trying to give you all that, which it’s way too much information.[…] Then why are we going to feed him all that right now, because we’re going to come back here next April. We’re not going to remember that. It’s too long.”

Ultimately, Kanaan–who ran the 24 Hours of Daytona with Larson in 2014-2016, winning in 205–doesn’t think Larson will have many problems when they get back to the car. “I don’t think Kyle Larson needs an evaluation as an IndyCar driver. He’s a complete driver. Out of his generation, it’s the best I’ve seen. I’ve tasted a little bit what these guys do, like he does, trying different cars. I know how much I struggle, and he wins and everything. He’s just one of the best race car drivers in the world right now.”