Subscribe

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Motorsport prime

Discover premium content
Subscribe

Edition

USA USA

Larson passes ROP to move one step closer to Indy 500 shot

Kyle Larson became one step closer to competing in next year’s 108th Running of the Indianapolis 500 after completing the Rookie Orientation Program on Thursday.

Kyle Larson at the rookie orientation program

The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion stepped into the  #6 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet normally piloted by Alexander Rossi) and was efficient going through each of the three phases, doing 72 laps in total with a fastest of 217.898mph. 

“It was fun,” said Larson, who will drive the #17 entry for the team next year. “I guess mostly what I anticipated in a way, the speed and the grip didn't feel thankfully scarier than what I thought it might.

“But just like how much the car wants to pull left, you have to fight it back to the right on the straightaways. All that was something I didn't expect.

“The way the wheel was lighter, a lot lighter than the simulator, but still a little heavier than what I expected. Other than that, I thought it went really smooth.”

One of the things that especially stood out to the 31-year-old was pit road.

“Just the steering is so slow, you have to turn so far getting in and out,” Larson said. “If you're coming in around someone, leaving out around someone. Getting used to the steering at the slower speeds will be something to get used to. Then maximizing the apron, braking for pit road, stuff like that, is stuff I'll have to really focus on and work on, maximizing potential.

“Overall, it was a great day. Felt like everybody at McLaren did a really good job prepping me to make things easier to get up to speed. Thanks to everybody there.

“Yeah, glad to be through today and look forward to the open test in April.”

Kyle Larson at the rookie orientation program

Kyle Larson at the rookie orientation program

Photo by: IndyCar Series

The California native is looking to become only the fifth driver in history to accomplish the Memorial Day weekend “double” that comprises of the Indy 500 and the 600-mile race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The unique feat was last accomplished by Kurt Busch in 2014, with the likes of the late John Andretti, Robby Gordon and Tony Stewart.

Tony Kanaan, the sporting director for Arrow McLaren that drove to victory in the 2013 Indy 500, has been beside Larson throughout the process to deliver advice and coaching. Additionally, though, the Brazilian showered the Larson, widely known for his diverse racing resume, with praise.

“I don't think Kyle Larson needs an evaluation as an IndyCar driver,” Kanaan said. “He's a complete driver. Out of his generation, it's the best I've seen.

“I've tasted a little bit what these guys do, like he does, trying different cars. I know how much I struggle, and he wins and everything. He's just one of the best race car drivers in the world right now. I'm very fortunate to actually get the chance to work with him. If I can contribute... When we win this one, I'll still get a ring, and I can say I have two 500s instead of one.”

The only real blemish on the day happened towards the end when Larson left his pit box but then appeared to stall just a few seconds later.

“Yeah, I didn't know what was going on,” Larson said. “I didn't think I was doing anything different leaving. I think when I hit the first gear shifting on the way by, because the pit road speed limit, pit road whatever deal, is on the back of the wheel.

“I think I hit that also and turned that off, so then it was doing some anti-stall things. It wouldn't let me go.”

Kanaan added, ”He did not stall, by the way.”

 

Impressively, Larson was able to go 15-for-15 during Phase 2. Overall, he found it more comfortable than the early beginning process of lower speed in Phase 1.

“I wanted to get up to speed,” Larson said. “I didn't want to take too long to get up to the 205 mark. I didn't want to get made fun of, ‘Why did it take you so long?’ I did put pressure on myself to get your confidence built up here pretty quickly.

“Thankfully, after three or four laps, I was able to judge off the tach, we were in there. The ROP was nice because I was not ready to go flat for a while. Building up to that speed and pace and confidence was nice to do in ROP.

“Yeah, just going to feel what an Indy car feels like, be low to the ground, feel the acceleration through the gears was pretty crazy. All of that was eye-opening and an experience that I know for sure I'll never forget. I look forward to kind of getting around cars, feeling how the dirty air affects things.”

Read Also:

Be part of Motorsport community

Join the conversation
Previous article Armstrong, Blomqvist, Lundqvist complete Indy Rookie Orientation Program
Next article The factors that fuelled Palou’s 2023 IndyCar domination

Top Comments

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Motorsport prime

Discover premium content
Subscribe

Edition

USA USA