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Rains spoils Kyle Larson’s bid at Indianapolis 500, Coca-Cola 600 double

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CONCORD, N.C. — Kyle Larson’s “double” started with rain and ended with it.

Rain delayed the start of the Indianapolis 500 for four hours and spoiled Larson’s plans to start both the 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 near Charlotte on the same day. Larson finished 18th in the Indianapolis 500, while the Cup race ended at lap 120 of the 400-lap event at Charlotte Motor Speedway due to rain.

Larson jetted to North Carolina and landed just as a heavy rain storm arrived about 100 minutes after the end of the Indianapolis 500. He would have gotten into the Hendrick Motorsports car if the race resumed, but NASCAR didn’t resume the event and called it official as they were past halfway with 249 of 400 laps completed.

Justin Allgaier started the Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 car at Charlotte and finished 13th. NASCAR tried to dry the track but after about a 2-hour delay, it determined the high humidity would make drying the track difficult to resume until after 1 a.m. ET and decided to call it a night.

It was a frustrating end to the day for Larson as the same rain system hit both tracks.

“I’m very, very thankful for the experience obviously — everything about the two weeks [at Indy] and all that was great until today,” Larson said about the two weeks of practice and qualifying lead up to the Indy 500, his first IndyCar race. “It’s just sad.

“Everything that could have went wrong today, went wrong. Hopefully, I get to do it again in the future and hopefully the weather is better.”

For Larson, the Cup Series points leader entering the event, he will require a waiver from NASCAR because Cup rules require a driver to “start” every race of the regular season to be eligible for the playoffs. While NASCAR did not make an official announcement Sunday night on the waiver, it would be surprising for Hendrick to have kept Larson at the 500 if it wasn’t confident in getting one.

Because Allgaier started the race, even if Larson had gotten into the car, he earned no points for the event, where the winner could earn a maximum 70 points and eight playoff points — both significant numbers considering that those points could make the difference in advancing if a driver struggles in a playoff round. 

Larson said he was part of the decision to stay in Indy and lamented a day where he finished 18th in one race and didn’t score points he could have used in the other.

Was the decision to stay in Indy worth it?

“I locked my brakes and sped on pit road, so I didn’t make it worth it,” Larson said. “I’m just mad at myself, mad at the situation.”

Larson’s deal with Arrow McLaren to run the Indy 500 is a two-year deal, and Larson hopes to try the double again next year and become the fifth driver to do both races in one day.

“I would definitely love to be back next year,” said Larson, who started fifth at Indy. “I feel like I learned a lot throughout the race. I made a couple mistakes early there with the restart. Not sure what I did wrong there, but somehow got myself into third.

“I felt like I did a really good job on the restarts and learned a lot. Definitely feel good about knowing what I would need different for the balance when I come back to help runs and stuff. Then obviously I smoked the left front or something on a green flag stop and killed our opportunity. Proud to finish but pretty upset at myself.”

NASCAR would have considered delaying the start of Sunday’s race by 15-30 minutes if Larson was close to making the start of the 600, but when it was clear he wouldn’t make it, NASCAR started its longest race of the season as scheduled with Larson still competing at Indianapolis.

“It just sucks, man,” Larson said. “I don’t think they’ve had a delay there [at Indy] in how long?”

Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsports, including over 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrass.


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