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USA Today via Reuters

USA Today via Reuters

Out of 42 victories in the top-three National Series, a win at The Brickyard has remained elusive for NASCAR’s newest double-aspirant, Kyle Larson. However, this year, Yung Money also becomes the 5th driver in NASCAR history to make the brave “attempt” at a grueling 1100 miles of high-speed escapades on Memorial Day. But more importantly, he has the strongest chance of also becoming the first stock-car winner’ of the Indy 500 at this same old brickyard.

Larson has been well in preparation for his much-awaited IndyCars debut, putting up ‘championship-level’ test timings in Arrow-McLaren’s #17 entry this past week. Yet,  one of his newest open-wheel teammates, driving the ironic #5 Dallara-Chevrolet, had some condescending words for a considerable rookie, and NASCAR fans were not impressed.

NASCAR fans defend Kyle Larson after O’Ward’s sarcastic remark

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The #5 in question, Pato O’Ward, is entering his fifth IndyCar season. Originally from Monterrey, Mexico, O’Ward claims Irish heritage, courtesy of his great-grandfather. The 24-year-old has an extensive resume consisting of a 2017 IMSA WTSC championship in its final running of the Prototype Challenge class, as well as the 2018 Indy Lights championship, similar to the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

In a recent X update, renowned IndyCars journalist, David Land posted a video where O’Ward made a few sarcastic comments on his new teammate’s newfound open-wheel speeds of around 226.384 mph at the 2.5-mile rectangular oval. Notably, his speed was second only to defending Indy 500 champ Josef Newgarden. As Land aptly captioned,What does @PatricioOWard think of his teammate @KyleLarsonRacin’s speed today? Pato O’Ward coldly answered, “Nice tow lap.” 

 

NASCAR fans were not happy, at all by this comment, and user @PeteMob4218 came to Larson’s support in online gestures, writing: “Lol Sounds like He’s Salty. He Needs to find more speed” Another faithful was not so civil as this comment read, “He can’t hold Larson jock!  Show some respect to that man!” Some even went as far as to say that O’Ward “sounds like he is a little worried about being outrun by Kyle!”

Nevertheless, considering the video is no more than six seconds long, @Donutboy88 acted as the voice of reason, stating, “I’ll reserve judgment until I see the whole clip.” Moreover, fans must realize that test timings barely resemble the original 320-mph, death-defying drama that is the Indy 500. On the other hand, Pato O’Ward’s statements to NBCSport reveal a much bigger picture in the works behind the doors of Arrow-McLaren.

Unveiling the bigger picture at Arrow-McLaren

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Closing in on 80 races run in the IndyCar Series, with 4 race wins and 21 podium finishes, Pato can be safely deemed an IndyCar mainstay. Additionally, he is also one of McLaren’s reserve drivers for the 2024 Formula One season alongside Ryo Hirakawa. O’Ward made some interesting disclosures.

He told NBCSports, “We want to get out there and play with the gang. We didn’t really find any of that in the morning. Everyone wanted to run solo. We’re just changing things and seeing what works and doesn’t. Half the things won’t be working great. Half of it we hope makes the car better than it was last year. We’re just going through the process and seeing what direction to keep working on…”

Larson seems to emphasize his teammates’ sentiments perfectly when he states in a release by the Indianapolis Star, “I definitely learned some stuff (today), but when the packs are that small, you don’t know if what you’re learning is reality or not, so I just need to get more laps behind people as well as in front of people.”

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For now, Kyle Larson’s focus shifts to the NASCAR season’s freshest intermediates test next Sunday, and he must surely be excited to reflect on Hendrick Motorsports and Chevrolet’s dominant display in February at Atlanta. Will we see a different type of Larson on Memorial Day? May 26th is only a month away.

Read More: Kyle Larson Unsure of IndyCar ‘Reality’ Despite Strong Start to Indy500 Bid