HomeSportsAs weather battered the Indy 500 and Coke 600, Kyle Larson learned...

As weather battered the Indy 500 and Coke 600, Kyle Larson learned how tricky double duty can be

Kyle Larson learned Sunday how tough the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 double can be, thanks to factors completely out of his control.

Larson didn’t get a chance to get into his Cup Series car Sunday night after coming in from the rain-delayed Indianapolis 500. Larson arrived at Charlotte Motor Speedway just as the 600 was stopped due to an approaching thunderstorm. After spending two hours drying the track after the rain ended, NASCAR threw in the towel on its efforts to dry the track and stopped the race after 249 laps.

Larson was, as you can imagine, quite depressed.

The rain that hit Charlotte came from the same system that delayed the Indianapolis 500. The 500 was originally scheduled to start at 12:45 PM ET, but was postponed four hours due to a series of storms that swept through the Indianapolis area around the original start time.

On Monday, Larson said in a social media post that Sunday was one of the most disappointing days of his life.

As Sunday approached, the possibility of rain impacting Larson’s double effort became more and more real. And it posed a conundrum for Hendrick Motorsports thanks to the rules in both IndyCar and NASCAR.

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If Larson were to withdraw from the Indy 500 for any reason, IndyCar rules stated that he could be replaced by Nolan Siegel, the driver who failed to qualify for the race. It was thought that Larson’s McLaren team could have put former Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan in Larson’s car, but Kanaan never completed a pre-race refresher course at the track.

Without a realistic replacement scenario for the Indy 500 and a desire to compete in the 500, NASCAR made the somewhat curious decision to give Larson a waiver from the playoffs and have him miss the start of the 600 without any postseason implications.

NASCAR rules state that a driver must start all 36 points races to be eligible for the playoffs. However, the sanctioning body regularly makes exceptions to the rule. In 2015, NASCAR suspended Kurt Busch after an ex-girlfriend accused him of domestic violence. After these allegations did not result in criminal charges, Busch was granted an exemption from the playoffs upon his recovery. That same season, his brother Kyle won the Cup Series title after missing the first 10 races of the year following injuries suffered in an Xfinity Series crash at Daytona.

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Other drivers have been granted waivers for injuries and extenuating circumstances over the past decade, but Larson became the first driver to receive a waiver for essentially missing a race of his choosing.

Even if you don’t agree with Larson’s waiver, you can understand why NASCAR granted it. Larson was trying to be just the fifth driver to compete in both races on the same day. Tony Stewart completed the double in both 1999 and 2001 and is the only driver to finish in the top 10 in both races on the same day.

Larson’s potential performance was the biggest mainstream racing storyline of May, especially after he qualified fifth at Indianapolis. His performance in practice and qualifying showed why he is the most versatile racer in the United States and showed that there was a chance he was a contender for the win.

Once Sunday’s race got underway, Larson got a quick education in IndyCar restarts. He was caught on an early restart and fell outside the top 10 as he was swallowed up by IndyCar regulars who were much more comfortable with restart protocols.

However, he worked his way back into the top 10 and looked poised for a solid run before a speeding penalty on pit road ruined his day. Larson locked up his front tires as he slowed to reach pit road speed, but because he did not slow down enough he was forced to do a drive-through on pit road under green. He eventually finished 18th.

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When Larson got out of his car in Indianapolis, the 600 was already underway with substitute Justin Allgaier in Larson’s seat. Allgaier was 13th when the red flag flew at Charlotte, although Larson likely would have restarted in 35th at the end of the first lap had the race resumed.

By not starting the race in Charlotte, Larson did not earn any points from the NASCAR event. But that doesn’t really matter. Despite the missed start, he is still the regular season points leader and is assured a spot in the playoffs thanks to his early season win in Las Vegas.

That win gave Larson and Hendrick Motorsports the opportunity to make the decision they made to focus on the 500. And the experience Larson and Hendrick gained on Sunday will serve them well in 2025. Larson’s deal to run the Indy 500 for McLaren is a two-part agreement. year agreement. Barring any changes, he will attempt the feat again in 2025. And he will hope that there will be no more thunderstorms in the way in the coming year.

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