INDIANAPOLIS — A bombshell of a news report was released on Thursday in the fact that Kyle Larson will attempt to qualify for the 2024 Indianapolis 500. It sent shock waves through the racing world. Larson will become the sixth driver to attempt this feat joining John Andretti, Davy Jones, Tony Stewart, Robby Gordon and Kurt Busch. The question now is, why wait a year? Why not 2023?
Well, that answer is simple.
There’s not much room for this year’s field for Larson to land a competitive ride. See, Larson doesn’t want to just show up to run Indy. He wants to show up and win Indy. There’s a difference.
Right now, 15 of the 18 allotted Chevrolet engines are already in use for this year’s Greatest Spectacle in Racing. We’re starting to scrape the bottom of the barrel and for a driver wanting to contend, that’s not good enough.
Arrow McLaren is already showing up at four cars and won’t have the resources to competitively field a fifth car. Penske has three cars and they’ve admitted problems of their own over the last three Indy 500’s and expanding to a fourth car makes no competitive sense for their squad.
Ed Carpenter Racing has three cars and drivers in them. McLaren going to 5, Penske or ECR to 4 makes absolutely no sense.
So Larson would be left with AJ Foyt Racing, Juncos Hollinger Racing or Dreyer & Reinbold Racing in terms of teams already with cars. Paretta is an all-female team so that’s out of the equation and DragonSpeed isn’t yet well established in the series yet and doesn’t own a car.
Foyt isn’t eyeing expanding to a 3rd car and they’ve not won a race since 2013. JHR has no resources available to run a 3rd car themselves while DRR was a solid option but they’ve not won an INDYCAR race since 2000. That’s their lone win.
For someone of Larson’s stature, why not hold out hope for a McLaren, Penske or ECR ride in 2024…
That’s exactly what he did. As a Chevrolet driver in NASCAR and a long time Chevy dealer in Rick Hendrick, in order for this to work was going to have to happen with a Chevy team. Hendrick wanted to join in with Larson and wasn’t interested in doing this without the help of an established team.
In comes McLaren.
The inn is full for 2023 but not for 2024. Work out the deal now. Announce it 500 days ahead of the 2024 race. It makes the upmost sense. Plus, Hendrick has a lot on their plate already with the debut of the sports car program for LeMans in June.
This gives Larson ample time to prepare, HMS time to work out the resources and a perfect scenario to make this dream come true.