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

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

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

Kyle Larson learned how difficult Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 double-header 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 traveling from the rain-delayed Indianapolis 500. Larson arrived at Charlotte Motor Speedway just as the 600 was stopped due to an approaching thunderstorm. After NASCAR spent two hours drying the track following the end of the rain, he threw in the towel on his track drying efforts and canceled the race after 249 laps.

Larson, as you can imagine, was quite despondent.

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

On Monday, Larson said in a social media post that Sunday ended up being one of the most disappointing days of her life.

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

If Larson withdrew from the Indy 500 for any reason, IndyCar rules stipulated 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 might have put former Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan in Larson’s car, but Kanaan never completed a pre-race on-track refresher course.

With no realistic Indy 500 replacement scenario and no desire to compete in the 500, NASCAR made the somewhat curious decision to give Larson a playoff exemption and allow him to miss the start of the 600 with no postseason implications.

NASCAR rules state that a driver must start all races with 36 points to be eligible for the playoffs. However, the sanctioning body makes exceptions to the rule quite frequently. In 2015, NASCAR suspended Kurt Busch after an ex-girlfriend came forward with domestic abuse allegations against him. After those allegations did not result in criminal charges, Busch received a playoff exemption upon his reinstatement. That same season, his brother Kyle won the Cup title after missing the first 10 races of the year due to injuries sustained in an Xfinity Series crash at Daytona.

Other drivers have received waivers for injuries and extenuating circumstances over the past decade, but Larson became the first driver to earn a waiver for missing a race by choice.

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

Larson’s potential feat was the biggest racing story 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 could be a contender for the win.

Once Sunday’s race began, Larson received a quick education in IndyCar restarts. He was caught napping on an early restart and he fell out of the top 10 as he was gobbled up by IndyCar regulars much more familiar with restart protocols.

However, he managed to get back into the top 10 and looked set for a solid race before a speeding penalty on pit road ruined his day. Larson locked his front tires as he slowed to get up to pit road speed, but because he didn’t slow down enough, he was forced to make a drive-through on pit road below the green. He ended up finishing 18th.

When Larson stepped out of his car at Indianapolis, the 600 was already underway with replacement driver Justin Allgaier in Larson’s seat. Allgaier was in 13th place when he waved the red flag at Charlotte, although Larson likely would have restarted in 35th place at the end of the lead lap if the race had resumed.

By not starting the race at Charlotte, Larson did not earn any points in the NASCAR event. But that doesn’t really matter. He remains the regular season points leader despite the lost start and is guaranteed a playoff berth thanks to his early season win in Las Vegas.

That win gave Larson and Hendrick Motorsports the ability 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 it is an agreement for two. year agreement. Barring changes, he’ll attempt the feat again in 2025. And he’ll spend the next year hoping thunderstorms don’t get in his way again.

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