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Kyle Larson Prepared for Hendrick 1100; Hopes Weather Holds off at Indianapolis

Kyle Larson is mentally and physically prepared to run 1,100 miles between Indianapolis and Charlotte on Sunday, but hopes the weather cooperates to allow him to do it.


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Kyle Larson has confidence, and rightfully so, heading into this weekend's attempt at the Memorial Day Double. Hendrick Motorsports has dubbed Larson's attempt at running the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 in the same day the "Hendrick 1100".

The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion is slated to start Sunday's Indianapolis 500 from the fifth position, and he has won twice this season in the NASCAR Cup Series on 1.5-mile intermediate ovals -- the same style track as Charlotte Motor Speedway, the host of the 600-mile endurance event.

But if Larson is going to etch his name into the history books as the fifth driver to complete the Memorial Day Double, joining John Andretti (1994), Robby Gordon (1997, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004), Tony Stewart (1999, 2001), and Kurt Busch (2014), he'll need a little cooperation from Mother Nature as weather is currently expected to play into the equation at Indianapolis, and potentially Charlotte as well.

Larson, who usually seems genuinely unfazed by any situation, admitted in a teleconference with the media on Thursday that he's a little worried about the weather forecast, and that he doesn't feel there is a definitive plan in place if weather intervenes with his weekend.

"I think you could look at the forecast and get worried now," Larson said. "I don't know anything. I have no answers for you guys as far as decisions and all of that," Larson explained. "I don't think anybody does at this point. I think it has to come down to game time decisions and playing it by ear. Yeah, I don't know. Hopefully the weather gods work out for us, and we get both races in."

While there is no definitive playbook set for Larson this weekend, the 31-year-old figures his opinion will be part of the decision making process on what he, Arrow McLaren, and Hendrick Motorsports will do if weather delays Sunday's Indianapolis 500 to the point where Larson making it to Charlotte in time for the Coca-Cola 600 could be in jeopardy.

"I'm the one behind the wheel so I would think I have some sort of play in logistics and all of the decisions," Larson stated. "But again, I think it all comes down to game time and figuring it out on the spot. You have a plan, and there's backup plans for the backup plan, and then backup plans for that plan. You just don't really know until it comes down to the moment."

While weather is a worry, Larson has absolutely no control over that factor. However, the factors that he has control over, he feels good about, and that he is in a good place to contend for top finishes in the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600.

Larson was able to answer the biggest question about this weekend's race, which was whether he would be able to seamlessly transition from the IndyCar to the NASCAR Next Gen car, last weekend. Larson impressively qualified fifth for the Indianapolis 500 last Sunday, and then flew to North Wilkesboro Speedway directly after that session to compete in the NASCAR All-Star Race.

The California native would start last in the All-Star Race, and would rally to a fourth-place finish. Larson explained that he experienced no issues in the transition between the two cars last weekend.

"No, nothing. Nothing," Larson answered when asked if there were issues swapping from one car to the other. "I was really happy with how it all went. I was surprised at how quickly I felt like I got up to speed because basically [North Wilkesboro Speedway] was a new race track that I had never been to before. Last year, it had the old pavement and all of that. This year, it had fresh pavement, and it raced completely different. I felt pretty good about things and how quickly I got up to speed. I would imagine Charlotte will be fine -- not that I didn't think it wouldn't be, but it was just good to get a little practice run in so to speak."

While Larson has had one of the most stringent racing schedules since his NASCAR career began, as he typically competes in dirt racing events in the lead up to NASCAR Cup Series race weekends, he doesn't feel like physical exhaustion will be much of a factor this weekend. Larson is just staying focused on his hydration and sleep schedule.

"I think just for me, I race so often that I stay pretty well in shape. But I have taken my training a little more serious the last couple of years. I just think to do the double, you just have to stay ahead of your hydration and your sleep a little bit," Larson explained. "So, been trying to sleep a little bit more, and just stay on top of the hydration like I said, and we'll have an IV lined up on the airplane. Hopefully, all of that will go smooth, and we'll be fine. I feel like I'm as fit as anybody is when it comes to racing."

And as far as preparing for the race, the Indianapolis 500 hasn't really impacted Larson's NASCAR race prep any as the driver doesn't usually rely too much on SMT data or simulator work to get him ready for a race weekend. Larson says he prefers to feel the race weekend out from the seat of his pants.

"I'm sure there's drivers that do way more prep than i do. I don't really do a whole lot," Larson explained.

Ultimately, that style of preparation has more than likely put Larson in a place where the task ahead of him this weekend doesn't feel like it's too big of a moment. And if the weather can hold off, Larson will look to not only become the fifth driver to ever run both races in a single day, but he'll look to join Tony Stewart (2001) as the only drivers to complete all of the laps in both events. If it all works out, Larson would be the first driver to run the Double to score a win in either race, and who knows, with how well he's acclimated himself to the IndyCar, Larson could possibly win both races.

That would be wild. But it'll take a lot of help from Mother Nature for Larson to pull it all off.

Photo Credit: Craig White, TobyChristie.com

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