The 2021 NASCAR Cup champion aims to make his IndyCar Series debut in a Hendrick Motorsports-owned fourth McLaren-Chevrolet entry in the 108th running of the Indy 500 next May.
To achieve this, it is essential for him to obtain clearance as a newcomer, which has been scheduled for a test in October. Larson has already simulated driving the car on GM’s simulator and has undergone a seat fitting at McLaren’s workshops in Indianapolis. Interestingly, it was discovered that his seat insert is identical to that of his driving advisor, Tony Kanaan.
At the IMS on Sunday morning, Gavin Ward, the racing director of Arrow McLaren, discussed the plans for Larson while revealing the livery of his #17 car.
“We have successfully adjusted the seat,” he stated. “We have completed a few laps in the simulator. We are now preparing to commence actual testing in October.”
“We will arrive here immediately, but I believe we may consider conducting additional oval testing before returning here next year. Therefore, it is certainly something we are considering.”
Our objective is simply to accumulate and maximize our preparation and practice time, in order to start strong and be fully ready by May.
“We are currently developing the plan and will share it once it is fully completed. In general, our aim is to optimize all aspects to ensure the smoothest possible implementation.”
Kyle Larson Memorial Weekend ‘double’ liveries
Larson went to the initial day of Indy 500 practice in the middle of May to gain a sense of what he can anticipate in the future. He admits to feeling “anxious” about personally getting into the car.
He will become the first driver since Kurt Busch in 2014 to attempt the 1,100-mile Memorial Weekend double, as he’ll be racing in NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 later in the day at Charlotte.
“I am eagerly anticipating October and the opportunity to participate in the rookie orientation,” Larson expressed. “I have given some consideration to this, so there is a hint of nervousness when it crosses my mind.”
“I believe that once I enter the car, many of those anxieties will likely dissipate after a few laps, and it will become familiar, similar to all the other race cars I operate.”
I am amazed at how effortlessly everything has gone, especially when it comes to fitting the seat and similar tasks. I anticipated it would take a whole day, but it only took an hour. It’s quite surprising, isn’t it? We finished so quickly. These are the kind of things I’m referring to.
“By simply previewing things a year ahead, it is expected that the upcoming year will be less daunting. Attending a practice day and experiencing the race for a brief period served as a valuable reminder of the chaos that engulfs this location due to the multitude of individuals and ceremonies.”
“I believe that having everyone see it was beneficial, and hopefully it will help alleviate some of the stress next year.”
Gavin Ward, Competition Director, Arrow McLaren, Kyle Larson and Jeff Gordon, Vice Chairman of Hendrick Motorsports
Photo by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images
The McLaren project will be veteran NASCAR team boss Rick Hendrick’s first experience of IndyCar racing, coming less than a year after his first Le Mans 24 Hours adventure with the Garage 56 program – which was also partnered with Chevrolet.
Hendrick expressed his enthusiasm about the opportunity to collaborate with a highly skilled team known for their exceptional speed and reputation. He considers himself extremely lucky.
“I had a strong desire to possess the car, but I needed a collaborator to ensure its success. Gavin, his team, and Zak Brown have provided immense support. Although it feels like we have been working together for more than six months, this is a thrilling moment that all of us have fantasized about.”
“I have had the opportunity to participate in prestigious races like Daytona, the Indy 500, and even the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It’s quite fulfilling for me. I never imagined I would have the chance to race at Daytona in a stock car, and now it’s almost been 40 years since then. The Indy race is truly remarkable, along with Charlotte and the 600-mile race. It’s going to be an incredible experience.”
“We had a discussion about it. Kyle expressed his desire to proceed with it. We are incredibly lucky that Arrow McLaren was able to make it happen for us. Therefore, I am eagerly anticipating the car’s arrival in the museum.”
This program has the potential to continue in the future, unlike the ‘one-and-done’ Garage 56 Le Mans project. McLaren’s racing chief executive Brown mentioned in January that it could potentially lead to other opportunities.