Larson's 'Double' bid in jeopardy from Trump, rain and red flags

Indycar Racing News

NASCAR star Kyle Larson is attempting 'The Double' this Sunday, driving the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on the same day – but several factors could stand in his way

5 Kyle Larson McLaren Hendrick 2024 Indianapolis 500

Larson may have some tough choices to make on Sunday: Indy or NASCAR?


This Sunday, NASCAR star Kyle Larson is set to take on one of sport’s most formidable tests: ‘The Double’.

If all goes to plan, the 2021 Cup champion will race the 200 laps of the 2024 Indy 500 before getting on a private jet to compete in NASCAR’s longest event: the Coca-Cola 600.

The 500 begins at 12.45pm ET (5.45pm BST) and should end three hours later, leaving Larson just over two hours to make the 574 mile journey to Charlotte, North Carolina, where the race begins at 6pm ET (11pm BST).

The gruelling 1,100 miles of racing have only been completed by one driver, Tony Stewart in 2001, but he and three others have made a total of nine attempts at the famous challenge, with the last effort being Kurt Busch in 2014.

Larson – who will be driving for the McLaren IndyCar team before returning to his Hendrick NASCAR squad – is aiming to beat Stewart’s best one-day result of fourth and third in the 500 and 600 respectively, but there are a number of tricky obstacles which could trip up a racing schedule which has very little room for manoeuvre.

Kyle Larson McLaren Hendrick 2024 Indianapolis 500

Larson has had to acclimatise to IndyCar quickly


Inclement weather looks like it could play havoc with IndyCar’s Sunday schedule and even if the race does get underway in good time, one of motor sport’s most hazardous contests could still be beset by red flag stoppages – and there’s more.

Former President Donald Trump will possibly visit the Coca-Cola 600 in North Carolina as he campaigns for the 2024 US presidential election, and as a result all other air traffic could be grounded and/or severely limited, preventing Larson’s journey between the two venues.

Should anything look to jeopardise the 25-time NASCAR Cup championship leader competing in both, the Hendrick driver has said he will prioritise the crucial Cup race race over the 500, though his team have sent out mixed messages. The motor sport world has its fingers crossed Larson won’t have to make a choice.

We run through the permutations of Kyle Larson’s incredible ‘Double’ attempt below.


Will rain stop Kyle Larson racing the 2024 Indianapolis 500?

Looking ahead to the 108th running of the Indianapolis 500, the weather forecast is not optimistic, casting doubt on anyone racing at all – never mind Kyle Larson.

The Indianapolis National Weather Service has an 80% chance of rain prediction for Sunday. Thunderstorms have also been predicted throughout the day with winds up to 18mph.

While other forecast services have even grimmer predictions, IndyCar will not make any decisions about delaying the race until the last possible moment.

If all were to run on time, the 500 would finish at roughly 3.45pm, before Larson would get on a 1hr 40min private jet (as well as two helicopter flights either side) to make the 6pm 600 start.

Now his NASCAR team boss Rick Hendrick has intimated that were the Californian to be a good position in the Indy race before it was theoretically curtailed by rain, they might consider leaving him in the IndyCar rather than abandoning for NASCAR – despite Larson saying otherwise.

4 Kyle Larson McLaren Hendrick 2024 Indianapolis 500

Will fans get to see Larson race at Indy?


“That’s a tough question,” he told Fox Sports. “Because we’ve talked about it many times and we know we need to be at Charlotte for the points.

“We’re just gonna let it play out, then Kyle, myself, Jeff Gordon, Andrews will go make that decision Sunday.

“It would be very tough, very disappointing because of all the effort that everyone’s put in from Arrow McLaren, to Zak [Brown] and the crowd, our marketing people, we’ve got a tremendous amount of folks there at Indy – he’s in such a good position, it would be extremely hard.”

The last time the Indy 500 has been curtailed by rain was 2007, when the race was ended at 101 laps after two rain stoppages, with Dario Franchitti declared the winner.

IndyCar doesn’t run on ovals in the rain, with the dangers considered too great for cars which hit speeds of almost 240mph on the straight in the dry.


Can another driver take over from Kyle Larson at the Indy 500 or Coca-Cola 600?

7 Kyle Larson McLaren Hendrick 2024 Indianapolis 500

Another driver may have to step in for Larson at Indy


Relief drivers were previously common in IndyCar, with one pilot taking over from another if needed. Though their use has dwindled in recent decades, some super-subs have stepped in when needed on occasion during a Double attempt.

For example, Jacques Lazier took over Robby Gordon’s car when the latter abandoned his rain-delayed Indy effort and headed for Charlotte in 2003, the substitute retiring on lap 88.

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It was thought that recently-retired driver and current sporting director Tony Kanaan might step in for Larson if needed, but this idea has now been ruled out.

For any driver without prior or recent experience of the fearsome 2.5-mile oval, a rookie orientation/refresher test is usually required.

There is only one driver available who would not need either of these – Nolan Siegel. Though an IndyCar debutant this year, the young Dale Coyne driver was gunning to compete in this year’s IndyCar blue riband event before crashing out of the ‘Last Chance’ qualifying round.

Now fully au fait with Indy, the 19-year-old could theoretically step right in for Larson if needed. If he were to do so, rules would require the team to forfeit Larson’s fifth place qualifying spot and start from the back.

Should Larson not be able to make the start of the 600, then Justin Allgaier would be his NASCAR relief driver at Charlotte.


Why Donald Trump could stop Kyle Larson’s IndyCar/ NASCAR Double bid

Donald Trump NASCAR 2020 Daytona 500

Trump may yet make another NASCAR appearance – potentially jeopardising Larson’s ‘Double’ chances

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Former US president Donald Trump, who is seeking the Republican nomination to run for the White House again this Autumn, could visit the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday – which might ironically stymie Larson’s Double bid.

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If Trump is present, then air traffic will be severely limited, meaning the NASCAR driver may be unable to take the private jet and helicopter to the the track required.

However, the former president’s presence has not yet been confirmed, meaning this scenario may not come into play.


Will Indy 500 red flag stoppages hold Kyle Larson from doing ‘The Double’?

With 33 unyielding competitors going for glory at Indianapolis, incidents, crashes and pile-ups are relatively common – and therefore so are race stoppages.

The fast and furious conclusion to last year’s 500 was a classic example, with three red flags coming in the final sixteen laps as race directors endeavoured to finish the contest under green flag conditions while cars continued to collide with one another. The race took almost three hours to complete, as opposed to 2hr 30min two years previously.

If the red flags turn into lengthy stoppages, this could threaten Larson’s 600 participation.


Will the Coca-Cola 600 be delayed to give Kyle Larson more time to do ‘The Double’?

8 Kyle Larson McLaren Hendrick 2024 Indianapolis 500

Larson has set an impressive pace during his IndyCar bow


There is also the option of the NASCAR race being delayed so as to accommodate Larson. NASCAR vice president Elton Sawyer intimated that there was flexibility in the Charlotte schedule if Larson was delayed for any reason.

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“We’re going to work closely with the folks at Speedway Motorsports, our TV broadcast partners, the folks at HMS to do everything we can to make sure that Kyle can get there,” he told Sirius XM.

Within reason we’ve got some minute by minute [options on] when we do our command and when the green flag.”

“But we’re going to work closely together to make sure that our fans get to see one of the best drivers ever in our sport to be able to participate in our Coke 600 Sunday night.”


Kyle Larson’s intense ‘Double’ Indianapolis 500 – Coca-Cola 600 schedule

6 Kyle Larson McLaren Hendrick 2024 Indianapolis 500

NASCAR star has had a packed schedule so far


Larson has been flying back and forth between Indianapolis and North Carolina for the NASCAR All-Star race last week, and now he will be jet-set for IndyCar’s biggest race as well as one of NASCAR’s blue riband events.

Here’s his schedule across this weekend.

Date / Time Session / Race
Friday May 24 / 11am ET (4pm BST) Carb Day Practice (IndyCar)
Saturday May 25 / 5.50pm ET (10.50pm BST) Coca-Cola 600 Qualifying (NASCAR)
Sunday May 26 / 12.45pm ET (5.45pm BST) Indianapolis 500 (IndyCar)
Sunday May 26 / 6pm ET (11pm BST) Coca-Cola 600 (NASCAR)