On Monday, 31-year-old Californian Kyle Larson took to the track in an Indy car for the first time in 2024, completing 172 laps around Phoenix Raceway. The test was rescheduled a day earlier due to the looming threat of rain, prompting Larson to mentally prepare himself for the session.
Arranged by Arrow McLaren, Larson’s testing stint aligns with his upcoming participation as a fourth entry driver in partnership with Hendrick Motorsports for “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” the Indianapolis 500.
Reflecting on the test during an IndyCar media briefing on Tuesday, Larson expressed satisfaction with the smooth progression of the session, highlighting the significant track time, including multiple sets of tires and practice pit stops.
One notable moment came towards the end of the day when Larson nearly spun out, an experience he humorously acknowledged. Despite this, Larson found similarities between driving an Indy car and his NASCAR Cup Series vehicle, noting the sharpness of reactions and the faster pace inherent to Indy car racing.
During his extended run, Larson encountered handling challenges, initially expecting understeer but encountering oversteer instead. Despite attempts to correct the balance, he found himself caught off guard, underscoring the nuances of transitioning between racing disciplines.
Larson’s ability to recognize the limits of the car and his growing confidence in pushing it to its fullest potential marked a positive takeaway from the test. With no other drivers present, Larson relied on his instincts and past data from the track to refine his understanding of the car’s performance.
Comparing this experience to his previous outing in an Indy car during the Rookie Orientation Program at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Larson noted the heightened intensity of driving on a smaller track like Phoenix Raceway.
Looking ahead, Larson is set to participate in the Indy 500 Open Test in April, where he aims to fine-tune his skills further before the iconic race in May. Acknowledging the importance of mastering the intricate details of Indy car racing, Larson highlighted the challenges of pit stops and the need for more practice to improve consistency.
Overall, Larson’s venture into Indy car racing presents a new set of challenges and learning opportunities as he prepares for the prestigious Indianapolis 500 and aims to become the fifth driver to attempt ‘The Double’ on Memorial Day Weekend.