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via Imago

via Imago

In only a few days, Kyle Larson will amplify his name in the halls of motorsports history by becoming only the fifth NASCAR driver to attempt the historic Indy-Charlotte Double Duty. Based on the overwhelming buzz surrounding his continuous efforts throughout May, followed by a blazing Fast 6 qualifying run last weekend, Larson has kicked off his open-wheel advances as the best example of all the excitement emanating from the world’s premier stock car racing series.

However, one integral associate of Larson’s extraordinary efforts has been pulling out all the stops to ensure no knots are left untied in accommodating his cross-promotional superstar, namely Mr. Rick Hendrick. And as things stand, leading up to the 108th running of ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,’ Larson’s #5 crew’s invaluable presence at Indianapolis reveals a selfless, high-flying side to the man that made it all happen for Hendrick Motorsports.

Rick Hendrick’s cash splash for the #5 Crew

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Carb Day marks the official launch of the Indianapolis 500 festivities. It’s the last chance for Indy teams to dial in their cars on the track to the utmost satisfaction before the big race on Sunday. This year, the events were followed by a pit-stop challenge and a concert headlined by George Thorogood & The Destroyers alongside Kid Quill and the Gin Blossoms. Before any of it even rolled off, developments from Larson’s Arrow-McLaren teammate Alexander Rossi, the 2016 Indy 500 winner, likened Larson’s inhuman efforts to another open-wheel juggernaut racing across the pond, Max Verstappen

But to take things to another level, portraying an even stronger display of endorsement for their 2021 Cup champ, Hendrick Motorsports has reportedly accommodated not just the #5 driver but his entire team on a journey to the Brickyard, almost 575 miles from their existing headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina.

As Jeff Gluck of The Athletic recently shared in a tweet with two vibrant images, “The entire Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 team (18 people) is here watching Kyle Larson on Carb Day. All of the road crew, pit crew, and even some of the shop personnel. Rick Hendrick had a plane fly up for them this morning.” 

Adding his own personal billion-dollar touch to the developments, Rick Hendrick told NBC Sports in an unrelated interview earlier, “I’ve always dreamed of watching that race (Indy 500) but never thought I’d have a car in the race, and our sponsor, our company is going to be there, a lot of people. We’ve got so many people I don’t know how we’re going to get everybody home. I think we have five airplanes up there.”

It is unclear which ‘five airplanes’ from aviation enthusiast Rick Hendrick’s vast passenger jet umbrella are currently working to ensure seamless transit. But if one were to assume derivatives from Mr. H’s statements mentioned above, at least one of those ‘five airplanes’ includes a 2.5-million-dollar ex-Chautauqua Embraer ERJ-145LR, capable of holding 50 flyers on board.

These seemingly extravagant measures are only in place to guarantee no potential problems arise in the #5 driver getting to his full-time Chevy and to set in motion his attempt at grueling 1100 miles of high-speed racing on the same day. However, deeper problems worry Arrow-McLaren’s iconic one-off debutant claiming the #17 Dallara Chevrolet entry at Indianapolis.

The contingency plans of Kyle Larson

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Building up for his eventual, yet uncertain, P4 finish at million-dollar, rain-delayed North Wilkesboro last Sunday, Larson’s chopper landed in the expected times post-qualifying for the Indy500. However, once news surfaced of his advance in a surprising pole position, battling the ‘fast 6’, NASCAR shifted the All-Star race’s green flag timings back by 16 minutes. Nevertheless, defending champ, Josef Newgarden would eventually pick up the prime position at the start of the grid as Larson made sure to start alongside his teammate Rossi and AJ Foyt Racing’s Santino Ferrucci in row 2.

USA Today via Reuters

Although the rains played spoilsport throughout qualifying during the million-dollar festivities at North Wilkesboro, Larson’s transit faced no major problems when it mattered. But in another twist of fate, weather forecasts predict an 80% chance of severe rains and thunderstorms over the weekend, affecting the state of Indiana. In case Larson emerges unable to be ‘wheels up’ by the targeted time of 4:15 p.m to reach Charlotte Motor Speedway before 6 PM ET for the expected kickoff time of the Coca-Cola 600, JR Motorsports Xfinity entrant Justin Allgaier is announced to be the replacement driver for the #5 on Sunday.

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On the other hand, Yung Money has made his priorities clear for competing in the Coca-Cola 600. According to Autoweek, if any delays take place during his attempt at becoming the first-ever Double Duty debut winner, Larson will leave the hallowed grounds of the Indianapolis Motorsports Park early to put himself into contention for the integral points-paying festivities awaiting his return in North Carolina. 2004 IndyCar series winner Tony Kanaan will take Larson’s place in the #17 cockpit if such circumstances arise on Sunday.

However, fingers are still crossed as fans hope for a favorable weather to shower its fortunes on Kyle Larson!