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IndyCar Indianapolis 500 Open test

Larson 'still has a lot to learn' after impressive Indy 500 test showing

NASCAR star Kyle Larson set a headline-grabbing second-fastest time in Wednesday’s Indianapolis 500 Open Test as he prepares for his IndyCar debut, but says he has 'a lot to learn'.

Kyle Larson, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet

Before rain cut test running short, the 2021 NASCAR Cup champion completed 47 laps – with 43 logged in the morning’s two-hour session – around the 2.5-mile superspeedway for the Arrow McLaren team.

He set a best lap of 226.384 mph to vault into second behind only pace-setter Josef Newgarden (Team Penske).

“It was a good day,” said Larson, who is attempting ‘The Double’ by running the Indy 500 and NASCAR’s 600-mile race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Memorial Day Weekend. 

“We didn't get a ton of laps or at least laps in a pack or anything like that, but it was still good for the amount that I got in something, just to visually kind of see what that looked like and feel the runs and all of that.

“For what I needed to learn and check off my list, I thought it was a successful day, and hopefully the weather could get better for tomorrow and check some more things off.”

Since Larson completed the Rookie Orientation Programme at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last October, he was free to immediately participate with learning the nuances of traffic.

He said his initial impressions of dirty air were that “it doesn't feel that bad” as he could continue to run unhindered in traffic, but he revealed that feeling changed as his tyres began to fade.

Larson explained that he “totally lost the nose” after being passed by Newgarden, which he described as a“pretty crazy kind of feeling”.

“But I think I could have done a better job, as well, when he passed me timing the air and the run and all that,” he added.

Kyle Larson, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet

Kyle Larson, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet

Photo by: Penske Entertainment

“Once I kind of lost the nose, it was hard to recover from it.

“It was so sensitive that, again, I don't even know if that's real, but I would assume that's more real than me not feeling a balance change in traffic.

“That's why it's just kind of hard to learn right now when the conditions are like this, and the packs are smaller and all that. There's still a lot left to learn. But that's what I felt in those couple runs.”

Larson admitted his efforts to learn could be hampered more by the cooler conditions not likely relevant to the month of May, but said understanding the characteristics of how IndyCar competitors race on track would be “very important”.

He explained that when he started racing in late models on dirt he “had to do a lot of studying on draft” which he believes is “much easier” to pick up quickly than the dynamics of a 500-mile IndyCar race .

“I'm probably just going to have to go off of what my team-mates tell me about other drivers,” he added.

“But I haven't really heard much about other drivers and their aggressiveness or who's really aggressive, who's crazy, who's not, who can you take advantage, who can't you, stuff like that. I don't even know if that really translates to an oval.

“I wouldn't be surprised if like guys are maybe aggressive on a road course or maybe not quite aggressive on an oval. It would be hard for me to watch Long Beach and be like, man, that guy is going to be crazy at Indy.”

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