Kyle Larson qualifies 5th for Indy 500, gets in helicopter for NASCAR All-Star race

NASCAR

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INDIANAPOLIS – Kyle Larson’s week at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is finished. Despite not getting much practice time leading into Indianapolis 500 qualifications this weekend, the NASCAR superstar will begin next Sunday’s race at the fifth spot.

Larson came into Sunday a member of the Fast 12 after having the sixth-fastest qualifying time Saturday. His average lap speed of 232.788 mph in the Fast 12 was fifth, good enough for him to make the Fast Six.

After Saturday’s qualifying round, Larson was unsure if he would participate in the Fast Six. Larson is set to race in NASCAR’s All-Star Race in North Wilkesboro, N.C., which was initially supposed to wave the green flag at 8:08 p.m. ET. Saturday, Larson said it would be “decision-making time” if he made the Fast Six.

He decided to finish what he started this qualifying weekend. In his second qualification run on Sunday, Larson ran at an average speed of 232.846 mph, which was fifth of the Fast Six. Larson will start in the middle of the second row in the first Indy 500 of his career.

“Qualifying went a lot better than I ever could have hoped or anticipated,” Larson said on the NBC broadcast. “So just proud of everybody at Arrow McLaren, proud of everybody at Hendrick Motorsports that’s been involved in this.”

After stepping out of his No. 17 Arrow McLaren Racing Chevrolet and finishing media obligations, Larson hopped in a red Chevy suburban, which drove him to a helicopter outside of Turn 2 at IMS. That helicopter — which took off around 5:43 p.m. ET — took Larson to the Indianapolis International Airport — where he’s set to fly to the Wilkes County Airport in North Wilkesboro.

Larson has spent the entire week in Indianapolis, as retired NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick practiced and qualified in his place for the NASCAR All-Star Race. The non-championship NASCAR Cup Series stock car exhibition has a $1 million price.

“We’ll just be cutting things a little closer for North Wilkesboro, but I’ve done my studies; I feel like I’m ready,” Larson said on NBC’s broadcast.

Per NBC’s broadcast, Larson’s helicopter wasn’t initially scheduled to depart IMS until 6:15. It left more than 30 minutes early, so he is expected to make it to the NASCAR race in plenty of time, barring any travel complications.

May continues to be a frenetic month for Larson, who will attempt to become the fifth driver to attempt ‘The Double’ of racing in the Indy 500 and NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 on the same day next Sunday. Larson is embracing the challenge of attempting the double while also racing in his first Indy 500.

“It’s fun to watch,” said Jeff Gordon, five-time Brickyard 400 winner and vice chairman of Hendrick Motorsports. “It’s fun to be a part of this whole experience. … It’s a lot different being on this side of the wall.”

Larson — who’s first in this year’s NASCAR Cup Series standings thanks to two wins this season — is starting his Indy 500 career seamlessly. The 2021 NASCAR Cup champion is proving why he’s one of the best drivers in the world, as Sunday’s performance was yet another data point of his greatness.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: NASCAR superstar Kyle Larson qualified 5th for the 2024 Indy 500

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