Kyle Larson already having impact at McLaren with his future Indy 500 teammates Tony Stewart returns to full-time racing with NHRA Top Alcohol dragster team

Kyle Larson will try to make his Indy 500 debut next season, but internal (and very informal) lobbying has already taken place at Arrow McLaren Racing for an even earlier IndyCar appearance.

During a meeting with Larson last month at the GM Racing simulator (literally not far from Hendrick Motorsports headquarters), Felix Rosenquist showed Larson some of the nuances of driving an open-cockpit single-seat car, as well as a friendly advertisement.

“It was fun just to show him how he sits behind the wheel,” Rosenquist said recently at an IndyCar pre-season media event. “He actually had to do some jumping in the car and (we) just talked about the race.

“He seemed very interested, especially in the road courses, actually. I tried to convince him to maybe try a traffic course. It would be fun.”

KYLE LARSON ON INDY 500: Answers, an analysis of his 2024 shot at The Double.

No other NTT IndyCar Series races are scheduled for Larson other than the 2024 Indy 500, but it is likely that the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion will enter (if not drive) a race this season.

During a press conference on January 12 regarding the Indy 500-Coca Cola 600 ‘Twin’ attempt, McLaren Racing CEO Zack Brown said Larson would likely run tests through the end of the season and also compete in 2023 IndyCar racing. to get behind the wheel. Debriefing McLaren drivers.

The Aug. 12 race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is an obvious candidate because Larson will already be at the Brickyard for the next day’s Cup race.

But there are three other IndyCar weekends that aren’t in complete conflict with NASCAR.

The race on May 13th at the IMS Highway will begin three hours after the end of Cup qualifying at Darlington Raceway. The June 18 IndyCar race at Road America is the only weekend in the 2023 Cup schedule. And the World Wide Technology Raceway Gateway on August 27 will take place the day after the NASCAR regular season finale at Daytona International Speedway.

This gives Larson some opportunities to build relationships with his new IndyCar teammates, but he has already made an impact on the McLaren IndyCar trio of Rosenquist, Alexander Rossi and Pato O’Ward.

Rossi has a history with Larson.s they went through the go-karts together nearly 20 years ago as geeks from the same region of California.

“It’s just a hell of a story, man,” Rossi said. “It’s very, very cool to be able to be a witness, part of who makes the Double. It’s such an amazing thing for any rider to have that kind of opportunity. Obviously, I think he is one of the elite riders on the planet.

“He’s going to come and share his opinion and experience.”

O’Ward met with Larson in the 2021 F1 season finale in Abu Dhabi (where the Mexican tested the McLaren and drove Larson around the track in a McLaren 720S.). Asked about Larson as a teammate, O’Ward said: “It’s terrible. I didn’t know much about it, but I think it’s so cool that he’ll be joining us next year.

“I think he will like it very much. Definitely, it will probably be the fastest thing he has ever done in his life. So I’m sure he’ll love it. He drives so many different cars. He jumps into any opportunity he wants to either experience or enjoy. The guy knows how to drive a racing car. I’m glad to have him as a teammate. I met him two years ago in Abu Dhabi when he was there after he won the NASCAR championship. I was so happy to see him doing so well in his return to NASCAR after a setback a few years ago.

Kyle Larson will be the fifth rider to attempt the Indy 500-Coca Cola 600 (Meg Oliphant) doubleheader next year.

“I’m a big fan of his. I feel like I can speak for the entire team; Everyone is very happy to have him around.”

Larson has been open about believing he can win on his debut, with Rosenquist saying the idea is not fantastic.

“He’s a great talent,” Rosenquist said. “In fact, I heard that many people are already betting on him to win the race. It’s a kind of expectation that he has. I think people sincerely believe that he can do it.

“Again, this is an opportunity to learn from someone from a completely different environment. Already after a short conversation with him, 30 minutes, I felt that I had learned something. It would be great to have him around.”

NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart will return to full-time competition as an NHRA drag racer this season.

Stewart, a three-time NASCAR champion, will drive the Top Alcohol dragster for McPhillips Racing throughout the 2023 NHRA season. Stewart, who turns 52 in May, will be sponsored by longtime partner Mobil 1.

Stewart made his NHRA debut in a Top Alcohol dragster. last October at the Nevada Nationals, where he reached the final and placed second with a score of 0.0002 seconds. Stewart’s run of 5.258 seconds and 271.57 mph in the final fell just one inch short of victory.

Stewart, owner of a sprint car team and co-owner of NASCAR’s Stewart-Haas Racing, founded an NHRA team last year that fields one dragster in Top Fuel for his wife Leah Pruett and a Funny Car for Matt Hagan.

“We’ve been working on putting together this package with the McPhillips family to expand on what we did in Las Vegas last year and get back in place,” Stewart said. “I want to keep learning this sport and be able to compete more this year with a team that I really like.

“Trying to do something different is a hassle, but when you have a team like the McPhillips Racing team, everything becomes much easier.”

Stewart has won NASCAR, IndyCar and USAC championships and will compete in the NHRA national championship this year. Top drunk drivers are eligible to earn points in their first 10 national competitions. Their top six national records in their respective point-giving tournaments will add up to their total championship points.

Stewart isn’t sure the title is close.

“It’s hard to sit and know what expectations we should have for the year,” Stewart said. “I think as long as I keep learning more and more, trying to be more consistent in driving, keeping it in rhythm, trying to stay consistent with reaction time and improve reaction time, these are all goals for me. . I want to keep learning and getting better every weekend and every race we go to.”

Stewart’s first race as a full-time drag racer will be the Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida next month. In addition to NHRA Nationals, Stewart will also compete in select Divisional Series races, starting with the Baby Gators at Gainesville Raceway March 1-5.

“It was like being a little kid again,” Stewart said. “When I was racing karts, I couldn’t wait until winter was over to start racing. That’s where I am again.”


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