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USA Today via Reuters

USA Today via Reuters

“Hopefully, the weather gods work out for us and we can race in both of them.” As the weather forecast for the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 reflected scattered thunderstorms, Kyle Larson’s attempt at the iconic Double was in jeopardy before the racing even began. The #5 Hendrick Motorsports driver was eager to finish both races, even if running the entire 1100 miles was not a possibility.

So when the weather over greater Indianapolis cleared up and the Indy 500 kicked off, Larson was eager to bring home a top-five finish, perhaps even a podium. Unfortunately, all the pressure from managing the double attempt may have hampered Larson more than expected at the Indy 500.

Kyle Larson is hoping next year’s the charm as a speeding penalty derails his Indy500 debut

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When Kyle Larson took over the #17 Arrow McLaren for Indy 500 qualifying, no one expected the full-time Cup Series driver to be as competitive as he was. Sealing a fifth-place starting spot, Larson was in a dominant position to challenge the frontrunners. For much of the race, he held on to the lead draft, only for an error on a green-flag restart to cost him over ten spots.

As Kyle Larson entered the pit lane with 70 laps to go, his Arrow McLaren locked up. This inevitably resulted in a penalty for speeding in the pits, which meant Larson would need to return to serve it. As the #17 made his way into the pits again, the front-runners pulled far ahead, leaving Larson in 20th when he rejoined. Although he could gain a few positions over the remaining laps, Larson’s shot at a good finish was ruined by his failure to slow down.

Despite battling the weather gods and getting a shot at the 500, Larson only blamed himself for his misery. The #5 HMS star shared with IndyCar on NBC, “I would definitely love to be back next year, feel like I learned a lot about the race. I made a couple of mistakes. We were early there with the restart. I’m not sure what I did wrong there, but somehow got myself into third and then felt like I did a really good job on restarts and learned a lot.”

Still, it was relieving for Larson to get enough seat time in the Arrow McLaren for his next attempt. According to the Arrow McLaren x HMS driver, he could have scored a solid finish if not for the penalty. He further added, “In the end, I obviously smoked a left front or something into the green flag stop and killed our opportunity so, proud to finish but pretty upset myself, so just, If I could have executed a better race, you never know what could have happened.”

While the Sacramento, CA, native pulled no punches against his mistakes, Larson had nothing but gratitude for Rick Hendrick and Co. At the end of a day filled with delays and unexpected errors, Larson was happy to bring the Arrow Mclaren home in one piece. That being said, his focus now shifts to winning the Coca-Cola 600. Speaking of which, the #5 Hendrick Motorsports crew has ensured Larson will have the best shot at doing so.

Despite the weather working against Larson at Indy, all the cards may fall into place at Charlotte

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Right after finishing his inaugural Indy 500, Kyle Larson could be seen rushing toward his chopper for the Coca-Cola 600. Owing to the delays in the 500, Larson was unable to make it in time for the start of the Crown Jewel in Charlotte. This meant the fate of the #5 Hendrick Motorsports Camaro ZL1 lay in the hands of stand-in Justin Allgaier until Larson returned.

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But without any prior practice or experience in the HMS setup, expectations weren’t sky-high from Allgaier’s stint. That being said, the car put together by crew chief Cliff Daniels was a formidable force, one that Allgaier was able to utilize to the fullest. At the end of 249 laps of the 400, Allgaier had held on to the top 15, just in time for Larson’s return. Still, there was another obstacle in Larson’s way that could have sent him to the rear.

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As Larson hadn’t started the Coca-Cola 600, the driver swap mid-race would have attracted a penalty if not for the yellow flags and red flags thrown around the time Larson returned. This means that Kyle Larson, with 150 laps to go, has a promising opportunity to not just finish the Coca-Cola 600 but also win it. Ironically, this time around, the thunderstorms helped Larson out instead.

Still, we’re yet to see if the gloomy weather persists long enough for the race to be called. With many insiders predicting a restart around midnight EST, do you think Kyle Larson’s fortunes can change under the Charlotte floodlights?