NASCAR garage eager to watch Kyle Larson attempt Indy, Charlotte double

CONCORD, N.C. — Perhaps the busiest driver in the Cup Series garage, Kyle Larson has had no shortage of air time — literally in terms of flying to and from Charlotte, North Carolina and Indianapolis, Indiana, and figuratively relating to the coverage around his anticipated attempt at the double.

On Sunday, Larson, the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion, will race both the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 (6 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN Radio, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) in the same day.

RELATED: Cup Series lineup | At-track photos: Charlotte

Although NASCAR’s best are preparing for their own war of attrition as they prepare to strap in for a 600-mile endurance race, most of them have their eyes on the Elk Grove, California, native as he shines as stock-car racing’s Indy example at the Brickyard.

“I’m interested just like all you guys are,” Denny Hamlin said Saturday. “I’m a fan of his tomorrow, at least until 6 p.m., and then I’ll switch to being his rival. We’re rooting for him. Certainly, it would be hard-pressed for any of these Cup Series drivers not to be rooting for him. He’s representing us and NASCAR tomorrow, so hopefully, he has a great run tomorrow.”

Team Penske driver Austin Cindric looks at Larson’s attempt in a different light as he has experience with the IndyCar operation within his own team’s race shop. He ultimately wishes nothing but the best for his typical Sunday competition.

“I think he’s living the racer’s dream in a lot of ways, to go run the Indy 500 but also do it two environments with running the double in two well-oiled programs,” Cindric said. “Obviously, even with an additional entry to McLaren, they’ve been on their game, Kyle’s been on his game. He’s, in my opinion, a generational talent, so not necessarily surprised but definitely intrigued to see him running so well. Hopefully, Penske can keep it one-two-three; I think it suits my narrative the best if he finishes fourth.”

Kyle Larson looks on from the NASCAR Cup Series qualifying grid at Charlotte ahead of the Coca-Cola 600.
Kyle Larson looks on from the NASCAR Cup Series qualifying grid at Charlotte ahead of the Coca-Cola 600.

Indiana native Chase Briscoe is no stranger to the Indianapolis 500, attending a span of six straight Indy 500s a decade ago and is excited to be represented on a different stage — not only to put NASCAR on display but to bring back the representation of sprint car drivers.

“I think for me, the sprint car side of things is what’s the coolest, knowing that he is a sprint car guy and tying it back to the Indy 500,” Briscoe said. “We haven’t had a sprint car guy at the Indy 500 since Bryan Clauson, so it’s pretty cool to have the sprint car world kind of behind Kyle.

“I mean, I think now, we all know him as this NASCAR guy, but to me, he’s still just a sprint car guy, and it’s cool to have a sprint car guy represented in the Indy 500.”

MORE: Cup Series standings

Hendrick Motorsports drivers Chase Elliott and William Byron, Larson’s NASCAR teammates, have tried their best to keep up with their fellow teammate as he makes this 1,100-mile endurance run on Sunday both while Larson makes laps around the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the work that the 2021 Cup Series champion puts into his No. 5 car back at the Concord, North Carolina race shop.

“I’ve tried to keep up for sure,” said Elliott. “It’s been fun to watch what I have been able to keep up with, and it seems like they’re doing a great job at Indy. Obviously, I work closely with Cliff (Daniels), and I hear a lot from him, way more than the IndyCar side.

“(Cliff) is a really well-prepared guy, so I know he’s gonna do what it takes to make sure his side of the picture goes really well. So, I wouldn’t be concerned if I was Kyle or anybody else, but I think they seem to be handling it all really well.”

“I love it,” William Byron said. “I’m just admiring what he’s been able to do, obviously not surprised. I think Dale Jr. said this: ‘Not surprised but impressed.’ I feel like he picks it up so naturally, and I would love to pursue that one day.”

Larson is already off to a hot start for the big day with a fifth-place starting position for the Indianapolis 500 and a 10th-place grid spot when he arrives for the Coca-Cola 600.