'Today went a lot smoother': Kyle Larson records 2nd fastest lap on Indy 500's Fast Friday

INDIANAPOLIS – Kyle Larson’s Fast Friday was much more pleasant than what he experienced during Thursday’s Indianapolis 500 practice session.

After driving only 85 laps in the first three days of practice, the IndyCar rookie got 34 laps in on Friday. Larson drove one of the laps at 234.271 mph, the second-fastest of the day behind Colton Herta’s 234.974 mph lap.

“Today went a lot smoother — more so as planned — where yesterday did not,” Larson told the media moments before his qualifying draw. “I thought with the forecast being good I would get lots of laps (on Thursday), but (I) did not. So I was pretty frustrated with things yesterday, but all went smooth and it’s good to just get some reps.”

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With the 108th Indianapolis 500 on May 26 being Larson’s first IndyCar race, he wanted to spend this week at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway learning the track and adjusting to driving an Indy car. Instead, the 2021 NASCAR Cup champion didn’t get much time on the track this week in the No. 17 McLaren Racing Chevrolet. Larson finished a measly 25th on the timing charts during Thursday’s practice session.

But when Larson was given a full day on the track for Fast Friday, he made the most of it. Along with having the second-fastest lap Friday, Larson’s four-lap simulated qualifying run clocked in at 232.549 mph, which was 10th.

Fast Friday also marks when cars receive a turbocharger boost of 100 extra horsepower. Larson wasn’t familiar with this type of horsepower boost heading into the day, but it wasn’t as different as he anticipated.

“From watching Indianapolis stuff in the past, the commentators do such a great job of making it seem like it's like, ‘Boom, you're going 100 miles an hour faster,’” Larson said. “But it didn't feel way different, so I was happy about that.

“I think our car balance was in a comfortable spot, too. That allowed me to be a little bit calmer in the car, while I think if I would’ve went out there and felt on the limit of the rear tires, then yeah, I would have felt like I was probably going way faster.”

Larson’s 234.271-mph lap was the fastest he’s ever driven in a race car in his 13-year career. The turbocharger boost will continue to be used for qualifications on Saturday and Sunday. Larson will be sixth in Saturday’s qualifying order after his 9-year-old son Owen picked up the No. 6 coin at the qualifying draw. Larson heads into qualifications with growing confidence of his abilities in an Indy car and at IMS.

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“I think each round (of practice), I got a little bit more comfortable and we got to kind of adjust,” Larson said. “Moving some buttons around and playing with the colors of things — and I think that was all coming to me a little bit.”

Friday served as a needed day for Larson to settle into his ride and run a good amount of laps before qualifications. The 31-year-old is shooting to be the fifth driver to complete ‘The Double’ by racing in the Indy 500 and NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 on the same day.

Despite what was a frustrating week for Larson and his McLaren Racing team, Fast Friday provided the NASCAR veteran optimism as he attempts to qualify for his first Indianapolis 500.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: NASCAR veteran Kyle Larson records 2nd fastest lap on Fast Friday