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NASCAR star Kyle Larson takes his first IndyCar laps for Indianapolis 500

Kyle Larson at a test Oct. 12, 2023, at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. (Provided Photo/Penske Entertainment-James Black)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — It was a big day on Thursday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

NASCAR star Kyle Larson hit the track for his first laps in an IndyCar Series car around the iconic oval at IMS. 

“Just getting to feel what it feels like being in an IndyCar,” Larson said. “Being low to the ground, feeling the acceleration through the gears was pretty crazy. All of that was eye-opening and an experience that I will never forget. I look forward to getting around cars and feeling how the dirty air affects things.”

The 2021 NASCAR Cup champion is gearing up to race in the 108th Running of the Indy 500 next May.

2013 Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan was at the track on Thursday to support Larson, who will drive for Arrow McLaren in partnership with Hendrick Motorsports.

Larson’s participation in Thursday’s Rookie Orientation was the first step in his journey to compete in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” in May.

“It does not feel like you are going 220 mph, it doesn’t feel any different than going 195 at Daytona,” Larson said. “I did look at the wall one time and was thinking, man that would really hurt if I hit it.”

It will be a busy Memorial Day weekend for the 31-year-old.

Larson plans to become only the fifth driver to complete the “double”: racing in the Indy 500 in the morning, and then hurrying off to Charlotte for the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR race that night. 

If Larson fares well in the Indy 500, could the IndyCar Series be a part of Hendrick Motorsports‘ future? 

“Say not to commit or say I’m not doing anything because I made a statement saying I wouldn’t run Indy and 30 days later I had to back it up and say I am going to do that.“ owner Rick Hendrick said.

“I think opportunities present themselves, we look at him, Jeff and I talk about a lot and with all of our teammates back at motorsports. We like to race, we enjoyed IMSA, we enjoyed garage 56, I wish we had more places to run that car,” Hendrick said. “Our main goal is to win championships in NASCAR, but I learned to never say never because he has a lot more gas in his tank than I do but we’re always looking at options.

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