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Ganassi open to Kyle Larson in Indy 500 – another year

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LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) As the Indianapolis 500 draws near, the tweets starts flooding Chip Ganassi’s inbox all asking the same question: When will he enter Kyle Larson in the Indy 500?

Larson wants to run the race, and Ganassi is open to entering the budding NASCAR star. But it has to make sense for the team, driver and organization.

“I think it’s just a matter of us having the right people and the right timing, and obviously it takes sponsorship,” Ganassi said. “Every time this gets talked about, it’s in April or May. Nobody ever wants to talk about it in June or July or August when it’s time to plan for the next year.

“All these social media people want to blow you up, `Let’s do it!’ Well, it takes a little bit of planning.”

Larson is the current points leader in NASCAR’s Monster Energy Cup Series, and his first win of the season came two weeks ago at Phoenix. He also has three runner-up finishes through the first six races of the year.

Ganassi said there’s no way to enter Larson for next month’s showcase race in Indy, but he’d be hesitant anyway right now.

“Nobody wants to upset what’s going on already,” Ganassi said. “So obviously we are not talking about this May, but a lot can happen between this May and next May. I also think Kyle understands he can’t just get in and push the pedals. He’s starting to understand there’s a little more to it, and I think he’s starting to enjoy himself a little more in NASCAR.”

Ganassi is an enviable position in that there’s no shortage of drivers available should he want to field a fifth car at Indianapolis. His equipment is strong and Honda makes a huge push each year to win the race.

He said that doesn’t mean that Larson isn’t “at or near the top of the list,” but that the car owner can’t snap his fingers and produce a car for Indy.

“I think Kyle understands, we have to weigh what’s good for Kyle and what’s good for the business,” Ganassi said. “If it’s a bad thing for the business, he knows that it doesn’t work. Right now there’s some other things the team needs to work on.

“If he really wants to do it, then we’ll sit down and have a talk about doing it.”

More AP auto racing: racing.ap.org

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.