Kyle Larson's Biggest Feat or Possible Failure
In the biggest news of the offseason, Kyle Larson announced that in 2024 he will attempt to pull off the greatest feat in American racing, possibly the world. He will be pulling Double Duty for the month of May driving in the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He will be driving for McLaren in Indy, which comes as no surprise with Hendrick Motorsports relationship with Chevrolet and his desire to be in top quality equipment. If there is anybody in the NASCAR field that can pull this off, it’s Larson.
Double Duty: Quick History
Only four other drivers in history have attempted to complete both races on the same day, John Andretti, Robby Gordon, Tony Stewart, and Kurt Busch with Kurt Busch having the most recent attempt in 2014. Both races are historically run-on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend with Indy starting in the afternoon and the Coca-Cola 600 starting a little before dusk. Stewart has the most successful attempt by being the only driver to finish both races on the lead lap for both. Not only that, but he also finished in the top 10 on his second attempt. He finished 6th at Indy and 3rd at the Coca-Cola 600 in 2001.
Kyle Larson is the most talented driver in NASCAR. I believe that he could go into any racing series, including F1, and become a champion. The odds of him winning at Indy in his first attempt must be astronomical, but with over a year to prepare for the race and his talent level, a top 10 or even a top 5 finish isn’t a farfetched idea. For those who don’t follow Indy Car, McLaren is a team that can give him an opportunity to finish in the top 10 and possibly even better. In 2022 they finished 2nd and 4th at Indy with their regular series drivers in the 500. They also had Juan Pablo Montoya in an open car that had to race in finish just outside the top 10 in 11th. This team has speed, momentum, and is on the cusp of being a championship team.
When it comes to the Coca-Cola 600, there isn’t much to speculate on. Hendrick Motorsports is always a top contender at any track they show up to. It is not often that they aren’t in the running for the win. He should finish in the top 10 and contend for the win at the 600. I don’t know if he can beat Stewart’s finishes, but I do expect top 10 places for him at both races.
The logistics for this feat are ridiculous. Just in miles driven in the race car, he will drive 1,100 miles in the span of roughly 9-10 hours of race time. That’s only if the Coca-Cola 600 doesn’t end in overtime regulations. Imagine taking a road trip across the country and driving 1,100 miles with only an hour and a half stop halfway through. I can’t even begin to try and understand the mental fortitude it takes to complete that.
Last season, the Indy 500 started at 12:30pm and the green flag waved at 12:45pm. Between appearances and preparation for the race, his day would have to start around 9-10am if not sooner. The Coca-Cola 600 is one of the longest races of the year in NASCAR. The race typically ends around 11:00pm. So, from start to finish he’s going to be hustling around and racing for 14+ hours that day. That is a long workday for anybody. He is going to have to be in peak physical condition to even have a chance at completing his task.
According to flightsphere.com, to travel from Indianapolis to Charlotte by air is 427 miles. I have taken that flight before, and on a commercial flight that flight is about 1.5 hours. I don’t know how long it would take in a private jet, but either way, it’s going to be a good hour of flight time. He is going to have to get out of his racecar as soon as the race ends in Indy and go straight to the airport to be able to make it in time for the race in Charlotte without any detours and hopefully no problems.
For the average person, just the idea of trying to compete in both races is enough to make you exhausted. Even for most professional drivers, this would be too much for them to handle. Larson just seems to be built different though. It’s normal for him to compete in different races throughout the country on a weekly basis, while also competing in the Cup Series. Trying to run the Indy 500 is different than the usual races he runs, but he seems to enjoy pushing himself to the absolute maximum. This will be the toughest feat of his career, but he should be able to handle it just fine.
Larson should do a great job at both races. I’m not sold on him doing better than Stewart’s best results, but if he were to do as good or better, I wouldn’t be surprised. Larson has the talent and both McLaren and Hendrick Motorsports are going to put him in top quality, race winning equipment. If he can stay conditioned and hydrated enough to compete in both races, he should have top 10 finishes at both. At the very least, watching him try should be very entertaining to watch. Hopefully he can complete both races successfully and safely. I applaud him for the effort and wish him best of luck.