NASCAR Cup Series
Kyle Larson 1-on-1: On historic Kansas finish, Indy 500 prep, advice for Kevin Harvick
NASCAR Cup Series

Kyle Larson 1-on-1: On historic Kansas finish, Indy 500 prep, advice for Kevin Harvick

Updated May. 9, 2024 1:07 p.m. ET

Kyle Larson has to have a little bit of feeling that finally, it's here.

Larson announced in January 2023 that he would attempt to race in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day in 2024. He has had 17 months to prepare, and now the final two weeks are upon him.

The Hendrick driver will be among those practicing Tuesday for the Indianapolis 500, the start of an intense two weeks that he hopes culminates with 1,100 miles on May 26. 

Larson, whose Indy 500 ride (his series debut) is being fielded by Arrow McLaren with support from Hendrick Motorsports, spoke to FOX Sports on Saturday about his Indy 500 quest. We added two questions from the postrace news conference Sunday about being involved in another historic moment — winning by the smallest margin in Cup history, 0.001 seconds, over Chris Buescher at Kansas.


You said you thought you were going to go in the wall when battling with Buescher. I'm curious, do you feel like you were lucky or just really, really, really good?

Good to get to that point, to get to his outside, ... then good to stay there in the center of the corner, and then the rest of it, a little bit of luck for sure. I thought I was going to — just with the way these cars are aero-wise and all that, I thought I was just going to murder the fence off of [Turn] 4. I guess all of that. What do you think, was I lucky or good?

I don't know. Last year you were side by side and spun.

So I was bad then.

Are you a better driver now than you were a year ago here?

I don't know. It was different circumstances, but you always learn from every finish that doesn't go the way you want it to. But last year had no factor in the result [Sunday].

Looking at Indy, is there any part of you that's like, finally?

The only thing that I'm like finally it's here is maybe finally you guys will stop asking me what I'm doing to prep for the Indy 500 [laughs]. I'm happy that it's finally here. Jokes aside, it's been since last January [2023] — and even before last January, that I knew that I was doing it — so probably going on two years now. I'm just kind of ready to live out a lifelong dream to this point and hopefully do a good job. I have a good opportunity with a great team.

Speaking of prep, have you done any work with a trainer or nutritionist in the last months or doing what you normally do?

I feel like I'm doing mostly what I normally have done, probably just being a little bit more disciplined, I guess, than I have been. I feel like my health and fitness the last couple years has been much better than it ever has been. In that regard, I'll be fine. There's not another driver on the planet that is behind the wheel of a car more than I am. With that experience, I'll be fine. I don't foresee it being a challenge.

Lifelong dream. Do you remember the first time you ever watched the Indy 500 on TV? What makes this a lifelong dream?

It's hard to say. I remember being young watching on TV and just always seeing how massive the crowd was. There's not a certain Indy 500 that I remember when I was young, like, "Oh, this driver won, and that's when I fell in love with this." Just my dad's love for the event, probably understanding from an early age, how much this race meant to him — even though we followed NASCAR, and IndyCar all that sort of stuff and sprint-car racing, I could tell that this was the biggest race in the world. ... And then when I got racing in lots of different types of cars and understanding that I was versatile in other disciplines, it kind of opened my eyes like maybe I could try the Indy 500 someday. It's going to be fun. I'm really excited about it. 

Kyle Larson shares thoughts on competing in Indianapolis 500 and Coke 600

Do your kids (Owen-age 9, Audrey-6, Cooper-16 months) know how big a deal this is?

I don't know. That's a good question. I think they know it's more dangerous. I don't know if they really know. Owen's got a decent understanding of how big this deal is. I think he's really excited about it. I don't think Audrey knows yet, but she thinks I'm going to flip. So hopefully I don't.

She's seen enough highlights?

Yeah. I think so.

Who is showing her those?

I don't know, YouTube. She's like, "Why are you racing the Indy 500? You're going to flip."

Do you have any idea how many times you think you'll do it?

I don't. I've heard two years. But I really just want to see how this year goes first — because if it scares the s--- out of me, I don't if I'm going to want to do it again. But I don't know. We'll see. Really, I've just got to kind of evaluate how the first year goes, I think they have the second year lined up, probably, if I wanted to do it. But we'll see.

Is there something that like you're really inquisitive about — the first time you'll be in big turbulence with the crowd is going to be different, fuel mileage ... anything you really are eager to experience?

All that for sure. I've been in the car a few times, but I still haven't learned a ton yet about race situations. And I don't think I'm going to fully learn that until I actually get in the race. We get a lot of practice time, but that doesn't fully simulate the race. Just kind of going through tire migration and traffic and all that as well as how to position yourself in the pack and saving fuel and all that and the most efficient way to do that, to benefit yourself, all those details that ultimately help you win the race. Your pitstops. All that. A lot of it's going to be different than what I'm used to. And then there's probably stuff that's more similar than what I maybe have been thinking about right now. I always enjoyed when I've ran new types of cars to learn and learn quickly because you have to learn very quickly if you're going to do a good job. I'm excited about the overall experience of just becoming a better driver, no matter what the result is.

Obviously, the Indy 500 is a big deal whether you were doing a double or not, but you will be one of five people potentially to do it — so is that a big deal to you to do something that's just so rare?

I think so. I don't know. I just like racing, That's the coolest part about it. I would do a double every weekend if I could. If we could start these Cup races earlier and I could go jet off to a sprint-car race every weekend, I would. I just like racing. But then when you race in two marquee events in the same day, I think that just adds a layer of awesomeness to it. If you can do a good job, and nobody has been able to win either one of them. I know I have a good shot to hopefully win at least the Cup race and would love to have a good run in the Indy 500. Just to set a record or break a record, whatever you want to call it would be pretty neat.

If you win the Indy 500, are you going to make it to the Cup race?

I would hope so. I would hope NASCAR is smart enough to delay the program just a little bit. The opportunity for TV ratings and stuff would be great. But I don't know. It's going to be super tough to win that race, so I'm not even thinking about that yet. I'm just hoping the weather isn't an issue or anything like that and I complete all the laps and then get over to Charlotte and race hard to try and win that. 

Kyle Larson on why the Indianapolis 500 has always been a dream

Do you ever see yourself full-time IndyCar? Could you ever envision that?

I don't know. Never say never, I guess, but I don't know. They do a lot of road racing, and I didn't grow up doing that stuff. And I think those guys are way better than I am at that. I don't want to just do it to do it. I would want to do it and be competitive. And I feel like your window of age to do that — I'm 31 now — I don't think I would be competitive trying to learn something new at 40. Jimmie [Johnson] going to do that, who's the best stock-car racer of all time, he struggled really bad at the road courses [from 2021-22]. I view that and I'm like, "Man, I don't think I could do a whole lot better, probably." I don't foresee myself doing a full season ever. But I guess check back in 10 years or something and maybe I'll maybe I'll have a different answer. But right now, I don't have any desire to run a full season. I just think I would get smoked.

Finally, do you have any advice for Kevin Harvick for getting in your car for all-star practice next weekend when you are at Indy 500 qualifying? 

I think my advice for Kevin would be to run hard. I definitely don't care, but I don't think [crew chief] Cliff [Daniels] cares if he crashes probably, either. I would want him to run hard. It's only a 55-minute practice probably, like, just get after it.

50 minutes.

Yeah. Get after it.

Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsports, including over 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrass.


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