INDIANAPOLIS – Kyle Larson arrived at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Monday morning not to announce a shock participation in this year’s 100th Indianapolis 500.
And he didn’t have a win to hang his hat on either when he arrived, following arguably his near-miss of his elusive first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory. In Sunday’s AAA 400 Drive for Autism at Dover, he came second again after getting beat by Matt Kenseth.
Instead, Larson was in Indy to support fellow Chip Ganassi Racing Teams driver Charlie Kimball as Kimball’s Indianapolis 500 car number will change to match Larson’s No. 42, with Tresiba support.
Larson’s runner-up result was a needed one for he and his No. 42 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet team. Larson’s best result this year had been third at Martinsville in April.
“There were a lot of people cheering for you in Indianapolis,” Kimball told Larson before Larson spoke to the room of assembled reporters.
“Man, it was fun yesterday. But I would have liked to be one spot better, and I’d be happier,” Larson replied.
Larson did admit that improvements have come to his No. 42 team lately even though the results haven’t particularly shown it.
“I definitely think we’ve made some big improvements over the last month or so,” he said. “We started out pretty poorly at the first couple mile-and-a-halfs. We made a small step.
“The last couple races we’ve made pretty big gains. We just have to keep working hard. The cars and sport changes so frequently, it’s hard to keep up with it. We have to keep up with the ever-changing garage area.
“I’m proud of everyone at the race shop. It’s starting to show in results.”
Team owner Ganassi echoed the sentiments, noting the team hasn’t “turned the corner” as he was asked but instead made the incremental steps that have made the difference.
“You know, things are so close in racing today you don’t have to be very far off on the stopwatch because it’s such a matter of tenths and hundredths,” Ganassi said.
“I wouldn’t characterize it as ‘turn the corner.’ We think we’re closer to the sweet spot right now.”
Larson may be on site at Indianapolis race morning to support Kimball and the rest of the Chip Ganassi Racing team, which has four cars entered in the Indianapolis 500 this year with Kimball joined by Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan and Max Chilton. It is yet to be decided whether he will or not.
“It’s cool to be here to support Charlie and Novo, and see him run the 42 car. This is a special event,” Larson said.
“Yeah, it’s gonna be fun to cheer him on as well as all the other CGR teammates. My cousin is a type-one diabetic. I believe he’ll be one of the 42 names on the car, so that’s special to myself and family. He’s had good runs here in the past. Hopefully, he ends a couple spots better than last year (Kimball finished third).”
Could Larson run the Indianapolis 500? It’s an age-old question that brought the same age-old answer.
“I wish I could be a part of it. Maybe talk Chip into sending me out for rookie orientation later,” Larson quipped.
“I’d love to do it someday. But you’ll have to ask the person sitting to my left; he’d make that call.”