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Kyle Larson carefully watching weather as Indy 500 draws closer and forecast for rain worsens

Kyle Larson
Posted at 10:26 AM, May 23, 2024

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Kyle Larson eyeballed his assigned teammates and plotted a strategy to try to score his first win of Indianapolis 500 week.

He was at Wheeler Elementary School early Wednesday in Speedway for annual “Community Day” and alongside Scott Dixon, Scott McLaughlin and Will Power, Larson was there to entertain the students ahead of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

He grinned and cheered through the series of games played with selected students — many of whom were taller than the 5-foot-6 NASCAR star. And if it hadn’t been his first ever time participating in the event with local students, Larson might have won a few rounds racing scooters around cones, the relay race to collect messages in a bottle or any of the other games.

But the other IndyCar drivers present are “Community Day” veterans and already knew all the hacks on how to win. Larson didn’t mind and after heading back to Indianapolis Motor Speedway, he and wife, Katelyn, enjoyed a photo shoot in the midway using the iconic NDY sign in which Larson raised his arms in the air to be the “I” and complete the word.

His only complaint eight days into Indy 500 prep is the forecast for Sunday, which is calling for rain. Larson is trying to become the fifth driver to run the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day, and he doesn’t want weather spoiling a year’s worth of preparation.

“If it’s going to rain here Sunday, then I just want it to rain all day and the (Indy 500) to be on Monday,” Larson said. “I don’t even want to think about what could happen if we’re sitting in the rain Sunday.”

That’s because his real job is in NASCAR and he’s not supposed to miss the race Sunday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway. So Larson grew a bit excited Wednesday when he learned of NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick’s indecisiveness a day earlier over how to handle the weather forecast.

Larson is scheduled to start fifth in the Indy 500 in a joint entry between Arrow McLaren Racing and Hendrick Motorsports.

“We’ve talked about it many times, and we know we need to be at Charlotte for the points,” Hendrick said Tuesday. “We’re just going to let it play out ... we’ll make that decision Sunday.”

Hendrick acknowledged he didn’t want to pull Larson out of the Indy 500 just to get him to Charlotte on time.

“It would be very hard. It would be very tough,” Hendrick said. “Would be very disappointing because of all the effort that everyone has put in. We’ve got a tremendous amount of folks there at Indy, and he’s in such a good position, it would be extremely hard.”

The decision will fall to Hendrick come Sunday. Until then, Larson is just crossing his fingers and hoping to see plenty of sunshine.