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Kyle Larson

Source: Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment / other

SPEEDWAY, Ind. — Qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 is an entirely different animal than it is in any other discipline of motorsports. Four laps, ten miles around the two-and-a-half mile oval of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Not only do you throw the cagey fact that your car is literally on the knife’s edge of careering out of control as you move through the four identical (yet different) turns, but you also face the possibility of not making the field at all.

It’s a feat that is not lost on newcomer and former NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Larson.

“I’m probably most stressed out of (qualifying) because that’s one thing I haven’t experienced yet,” Larson said. “The boost, the trimming out and all that.”

Larson is in the middle of his duties as a regular competitor in the NASCAR Cup Series with Hendrick Motorsports. He will attempt “The Double”, racing in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte on the same day.

The feat demands a driver to cover 1,100 miles in the span of 12 hours.

Lots of preparation behind the scenes had led to this opportunity for Larson as Hendrick and Arrow McLaren announced a deal for Larson to try The Double late last year.

“Once I found out it was the Arrow McLaren team I was really excited about that,” said Larson. “They’ve been really strong here the last couple years.”

That reassurance in his team, though, does not negate the fact that four daunting laps flat out by yourself around IMS could be one of the most challenging things he’s ever experienced in his career as a racing driver.

In NASCAR, drivers only have to take one timed lap around any given track they visit (sans road courses).

“I’m a bit nervous of what to expect. Four laps with the balance of the car changing each lap and having to stay committed wide open is scary sometimes. I would like one lap better, but the history of this event and taking the four laps and average speed is really cool.”

Larson added that whether it’s a Cup car, USAC, World of Outlaws, you name it, driving is “second nature” to him and that having to code switch, so to speak, between the different disciplines has never been a hindrance to his ability.

That ability will be put to the test this weekend.

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