What Happens To Kyle Larson If The Indy 500 Is Delayed By Rain?

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(Penske Entertainment: James Black)
(Penske Entertainment: James Black)

Kyle Larson is going to be keeping an eye on the weather this Sunday.

The NASCAR Cup Series star is scheduled to compete in the Indy 500, then fly to Charlotte for the Coca-Cola 600 in an attempt to become the fifth driver to attempt what’s become known as The Double.

But it might be tight.

The Indy 500 typically runs three to three-and-a-half hours if things go well, so it 4 p.m. or later by the time it finishes and he’s able to head to the helicopter that will take him to a nearby airport for the hour flight to Charlotte. Then he’ll need to hop onto another helicopter for the final leg to Charlotte Motor Speedway in time for the green flag to drop at 6:18 p.m.

Any delays during the IndyCar race can throw a wrench into the works, but things are looking particularly dicey this year.


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Larson is driving for Arrow McLaren with Hendrick sponsorship. (Penske Entertainment: Doug Mathews)

The weather forecast is calling for a better than 50% chance of showers and thunderstorms throughout the day in Indianapolis on Sunday, which could delay the start time or an extended suspension of the race.

If that happens, Larson and his team are going to have to decide what to do, because as full-time NASCAR Cup Series driver his primary responsibility is to the Hendrick Motorsports NASCAR team.

But team owner Rick Hendrick, who is sponsoring and actively involved in Larson’s Indy 500 entry says no decision on what will happen has yet been made.

“We know we need to be in Charlotte for the points and we’re just going to let it play out,” Hendrick said.

Hendrick said he and Kyle and Hendrick Motorsports Vice Chairman Jeff Gordon will discuss things at the time and make the decision.

Hendrick said skipping the Indy 500 “would be very hard, be very tough, be very disappointing because of all the effort everyone has put in.”

Things might be easier if Larson wasn’t proving to be a great IndyCar driver. He’s qualified fifth for the race and oddsmakers have him as one of the favorites to win.

Meanwhile, he already has one Coca-Cola 600 victory on his resume and is the outright favorite to win this year.

If he misses it, NASCAR would have to grant him a waiver to qualify for the championship, as the series technically requires full-time drivers to compete in every event. He already has two wins and is a lock for the Playoffs. The series has been known to make exceptions, of course, and Larson’s Indy 500 adventure has been such a high-profile success that it’s unlikely he wouldn’t get a pass, but NASCAR hasn’t offered a definitive answer yet.

All of this could be moot if the Indy 500 is canceled early in the day before it begins, or starts and makes it past halfway, which would make it official. If it gets pushed to Monday, Larson could end up in Indianapolis for a few days as the forecast currently calls for rain on Monday and Tuesday before the sun — hopefully — returns on Wednesday.

Larson has already pulled-off a different kind of Double by finishing Indy 500 qualifying last Sunday then flying to North Wilkesboro Speedway, where he finished third in the NASCAR All-Star Race.