Kyle Larson set to join elite group, faces daunting schedule with Indy 500-NASCAR double

Kyle Larson has long been considered one of the most versatile drivers in motor sports.

A NASCAR Cup Series champion, Larson has won on ovals of various sizes and road courses. He is a masterful racer on dirt, having won numerous sprint car and midget races both before and during his NASCAR career. He has raced sports cars and triumphed in one of the biggest races in the world: the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.

Now, Larson will add another huge piece to his impressive racing résumé when he makes his major open-wheel debut in the 2024 Indianapolis 500. And to top it off, Larson on Sunday will attempt what only four other drivers have ever accomplished: the historic IndyCar-NASCAR double – racing in the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on the same day.

Read more about Larson and his grueling Sunday schedule:

Who is Kyle Larson?

Kyle Larson was born July 31, 1992, in Elk Grove, California. He grew up racing karts, midgets and sprint cars before making his stock car debut in the ARCA Menards Series East in 2012 and winning the season championship. That same year, he raced in four NASCAR Truck Series races, and in 2013, he tested himself at NASCAR's highest level with four Cup races.

Larson became a full-time Cup Series driver in 2014 with Chip Ganassi Racing and moved to Hendrick Motorsports in 2021. He is now one of the best drivers in NASCAR's premier series. Larson has won 25 Cup races (through May 19, 2024), and in 2021, he took home his first Cup Series championship.

Larson has won two Cup races so far in 2024 driving the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, and he currently sits atop the points standings.

He will drive a Hendrick-sponsored Arrow McLaren Chevrolet in the 2024 Indy 500.

Kyle Larson attempts the IndyCar-NASCAR double

On Sunday, Larson will become the first driver in a decade to attempt to pull off the rare IndyCar-NASCAR double, when he would race 500 miles at Indianapolis Motor Speedway followed by 600 miles at Charlotte Motor Speedway – going from IndyCar's most iconic race to NASCAR's longest.

The extraordinary test of endurance is one that only four other drivers have ever attempted.

Jon Andretti was the first in 1994. Robby Gordon followed in 1997 and raced the double four more times: 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2004. Tony Stewart, who won the 2011 NASCAR Cup Series championship, did the double twice – first in 1999 and again in 2001, when he became the first and only driver to complete all 1,100 miles. Kurt Busch, the 2004 Cup champion, was the last to drive in both races in 2014.

Has Kyle Larson ever raced at Indianapolis Motor Speedway?

Larson has raced at the Brickyard but until this year only in NASCAR and USAC dirt races. In the NASCAR Cup Series, he has raced on the 2.5-mile oval six times – with a best finish of fifth in 2016 – and the IMS road course three times – with a best finish of third in 2021.

He turned his first official laps in an Indy car on the IMS oval in October 2023 during Indy 500 rookie orientation and participated in an open test at the speedway last month. But the intensity really picked up last week when Larson hit the track with a full field of IndyCar drivers for Indy 500 practice sessions, leading up to weekend qualifying.

Kyle Larson races on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during NASCAR's Verizon 200 at the Brickyard on Aug. 15, 2021.
Kyle Larson races on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during NASCAR's Verizon 200 at the Brickyard on Aug. 15, 2021.

Kyle Larson qualifies for 2024 Indy 500. Where will he start?

Larson locked himself into the Indy 500 field last Saturday, though it took two attempts. His first attempt at four consecutive qualifying laps was aborted on the final lap when his No. 17 Arrow McLaren Racing Chevrolet had a small plenum fire. He then waited nearly three hours for another attempt and completed his redo with an average speed of 232.563 mph, good for the sixth-best speed in Day 1 of qualifying.

The next day, Larson and the 11 other fastest drivers from Saturday faced off in Top 12 qualifying, and he finished one better, posting the fifth-fastest speed. That mark sent Larson into the Fast Six and a chance to take the pole for the 108th running of the Indy 500. Larson once again posted the fifth-best time, putting him on the second row with the No. 5 starting position for Sunday's race.

What is Kyle Larson's schedule this weekend?

Larson will be spending all weekend in cars and planes, with little to no downtime, though he already familiarized himself with that routine. Following Indy 500 qualifying last Sunday, Larson immediately boarded a helicopter and then a plane to fly to North Wilkesboro, North Carolina for the NASCAR All-Star Race. He then returned to Indianapolis for another practice session on Monday.

This weekend will be even busier:

  • On Friday, Larson will be back at IMS for Indy 500 Carb Day practice and the Pit Stop Challenge.

  • On Saturday, Larson will spend the day at Charlotte Motor Speedway, practicing and qualifying for NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 before flying back to Indianapolis later that night.

  • On Sunday, Larson will wake up early and head to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing." Pre-race festivities for the Indy 500 begin at 11 a.m. ET, and the green flag will drop at 12:45 p.m. ET.

  • As soon as Larson's day is done in Indy, he once again will board a helicopter and a plane to fly back to Charlotte, where he will suit up for the Coca-Cola 600 at 6 p.m. ET.

But a possible rainy Sunday in Indianapolis – and former President Donald Trump's planned visit to the Coca-Cola 600 – could derail the best-laid plans.

How to watch Kyle Larson race in the 2024 Indianapolis 500?

  • NBC is televising the 108th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday and has a pre-race show beginning at 11 a.m. ET.

  • The race can be live streamed on Peacock, the NBC Sports app, IndyCar Live (for international viewers) and Fubo (regional restrictions apply).

How to watch Kyle Larson race in the 2024 Coca-Cola 600?

  • FOX is televising Sunday's NASCAR race at Charlotte Motor Speedway and has a pre-race show beginning at 5:30 p.m. ET. Fox Sports 1 (FS1) will have an earlier pre-race show beginning at 4:30 p.m. ET.

  • The Coca-Cola 600 can be streamed on the FoxSports website and on the FoxSports app.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Kyle Larson set to race Indy 500, NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 double