Larson on Indy 500 attempt: “I want to do it, take it serious, feel like I’m prepared enough to win”

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Co-author: John GoolsbyThe 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion unveils his plans for the next Indy 500.

Photo credit: Arrow McLaren

NASCAR champion Kyle Larson unveiled his plans to run the 2024 Indy 500 yesterday morning in a press conference that included Pit Debrief and other media outlets.

Larson was on hand with Jeff Gordon, Vice Chairman of Hendrick Motorsports and Racing Director at Arrow McLaren Gavin Ward at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

In January 2023, Arrow McLaren and Hendrick Motorsports announced a partnership that included the entry of a co-owned car between the two parts on the 2024 running of the Indy 500. On a partnership much similar to the one that McLaren had with Andretti 6 years ago, which allowed the debut of F1 double World Champion Fernando Alonso at the race.“It’s been something that I’ve wanted to do for a very long time,” said Larson. “I wanted to be patient and kind of wait for the timing to feel right. It feels right. Having Hendrick Motorsports be extremely supportive of it, supporting the efforts with Arrow McLaren, it’s something that I’m extremely excited about.

“To have Rick and Jeff Gordon involved. Jeff kind of told me that I get to live out a dream of his. That’s really special also to me.”The late Robin Miller had been lobbying to have Larson in an Indy car for years. “Larson entering the race will sell an automatic 10,000 additional seats, and drive the media coverage up to a level we haven’t seen for more than a decade,” said the legendary IndyCar journalist. “He’s a grassroots American hero – humble and gracious, and easy to cheer for any night of the week.”Larson said to the media that he thinks this opportunity has been in the making for the last decade:“Maybe a little bit. I think when I was with Chip Ganassi Racing in the NASCAR stuff, I think a lot of people, maybe myself at times, thought that I would go immediately to try to compete in the Indy 500 for Chip.

“I wasn’t as accomplished yet in the NASCAR stuff. I wanted to be able to not feel like I was taking a ton away from that stuff. Now I’ve been able to accomplish a lot in the NASCAR stuff. Hendrick is obviously always a consistent frontrunner. I thought you could take a little bit of focus away from that to run the Indy 500.”This partnership will fulfill also an old dream of Jeff Gordon.“Like Kyle said, it’s true, I did say to him he’s going to be able to live out a dream of mine. I go back to the mid to late ’80s when I was living here in Indiana, raced all around here. Every race car driver’s dream, if you race around Indianapolis, is to get here, to compete at this facility.

“I don’t know if really the right opportunity or it ever became serious enough after that to become a reality. So to me, this is equally as exciting because, one, I sure as heck right now don’t want to drive into turn one at 238 miles, whatever they’re running (smiling), but Kyle does. Kyle is capable of it.

“The fact that Rick has never been to the Indy 500, we’re going to go to Le Mans this year, next year he’s going to come to the Indy 500, that’s extremely exciting for our organization, as well as the things we can learn from Arrow McLaren in what they do here to compete for this event. I think there’s crossover we can learn from one another.

“Super excited. Excited for Kyle. As well as he has the ability. When he has the equipment and the resources, the people surrounding him, he has the ability to go do extraordinary things. We’ve seen him do it in other cars. I have no doubt that he’ll be able to do that in the Indy 500 next year, as well.”The NASCAR star proceeded to say on how focused he is to win the 500.“I don’t want to do this to just do it. I want to do it, take it serious, feel like I’m prepared enough to win.

“Yeah, I feel like I’m surrounded by great people and looking forward for the opportunity. I’ve got 300 some odd days to try to get ready.”