Kyle Larson already having impact at McLaren with his future Indy 500 teammates


Kyle Larson will attempt his Indy 500 debut next season, but internal (and very informal) lobbying already has happened at Arrow McLaren Racing for an even earlier IndyCar appearance.

While meeting with Larson last month at the GM Racing simulator (literally just down the road from Hendrick Motorsports headquarters), Felix Rosenqvist demonstrated Larson some nuances of driving a single-seater, open-cockpit vehicle while also making a friendly sales pitch.

“It was fun just showing him around the steering wheel,” Rosenqvist said recently at IndyCar’s preseason media event. “He actually got to jump in the car a little bit, and (we were) just talking about the race.

“He sounded very interested, especially in the road courses, actually. I tried to convince him to maybe try to do a road course as well. That would be fun.”

KYLE LARSON AT THE INDY 500: Answers, analysis about his 2024 shot at The Double

There are no other NTT IndyCar Series races scheduled for Larson beyond the 2024 Indy 500, but it’s likely the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion will attend (if not drive) a race this season.

During the Jan. 12 news conference to announce the Indy 500-Coca Cola 600 attempt of “The Double,” McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown said Larson likely would be testing before the end of the season and also would attend 2023 IndyCar races to sit in McLaren driver debriefs.

The Aug. 12 race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course is an obvious candidate because Larson already will be at the Brickyard for the Cup race the next day.

But there are three other IndyCar weekends that aren’t in complete conflict with NASCAR.

The May 13 race at the IMS road course will begin three hours after Cup qualifying ends at Darlington Raceway. IndyCar’s June 18 race at Road America is on the only off weekend in the 2023 Cup schedule. And the World Wide Technology Raceway Gateway race on Aug. 27 would take place the day after NASCAR’s regular-season finale at Daytona International Speedway.

That presents some opportunities for Larson to bond with his new IndyCar teammates, but he already has made an impact on McLaren’s IndyCar trio of Rosenqvist, Alexander Rossi and Pato O’Ward.

Rossi has some history with Larson as they came up through the go-kart ranks together nearly 20 years ago as prodigies from the same region of California.

“It’s just a hell of a story, man,” Rossi said. “It’s really, really cool to be able to be witness, part of someone doing The Double. That’s such an amazing thing for any racing driver, to have the opportunity to do that. Obviously, I think he’s one of the elite racing drivers on the planet.

“He’s going to come in and have his own kind of opinion and experience to bring to the table.”

O’Ward met with Larson at the 2021 F1 season finale in Abu Dhabi (where the Mexican tested a McLaren and gave Larson a ride around the track in a McLaren 720S). Asked about having Larson as a teammate, O’Ward said “that’s sick. I kind of knew about it a little bit, but I think it’s so cool that he’s going to join us next year.

“I think he’s going to really enjoy it. Definitely going to be probably the quickest he’s ever going to go in his life. So I’m sure he will enjoy that. He drives so many different cars. He jumps into whatever opportunity that he wants to either experience or enjoy. The guy can wheel a race car. I’m excited to have him as a teammate. I met him a little bit two years ago in Abu Dhabi when he was there after he won the NASCAR championship. I was so happy to see him do so well on his comeback to NASCAR after the mishap that he had a few years ago.

NASCAR Clash at the Coliseum
Kyle Larson will become the fifth driver to attempt the Indy 500-Coca Cola 600 doubleheader next year (Meg Oliphant/Getty Images).

“I’m a big fan of him. I feel like I can speak on behalf of the whole team; everybody’s really excited to have him around.”

Larson openly has talked about believing he can win in his debut, and Rosenqvist said the idea isn’t fanciful.

“He’s a great talent,” Rosenqvist said. “Actually I’ve heard a lot of people already betting for him to win the race. That’s kind of the expectation that he has. I think people truly believe he can do that.

“Again, it’s an opportunity to learn from someone that comes from a completely different environment. Already the little chat I had with him, 30 minutes, I felt like I learned something. It will be great to have him around.”

Eli Tomac wins Seattle Supercross, ties Cooper Webb in championship points


In the past two weeks, Eli Tomac lost his momentum and with it the Monster Energy Supercross red plate to Cooper Webb, but a gutsy performance in Seattle gave him a sixth win of the season as he and the series heads into an off week tied. Tomac is currently tied in the points with Webb.

With this win, Tomac also ties James Stewart for second on the all-time wins list at 50 with six rounds remaining in 2023.

“I needed that bounce back,” Tomac told NBC Sports’ Will Christien. “It was almost like I was in a little bit of a slump in the past couple of weeks; just a little bit off. I’m feeling much better now. That track raced really cool. There were a lot of different lines out there.

“It was obviously very dicey early on. I got passed and then had to make those passes back.”

Tomac suffered with a stiff neck in Indianapolis two weeks ago when he lost the red plate to Webb for the first time in 2023. In that race, he scored his worst finish of the season in eighth. He lost more points in Detroit after finishing a distant third behind Chase Sexton and Webb. This is the fifth time this season that Tomac and Webb finished 1-2 in a race. Tomac has won them all, but Webb has been more consistent.

RESULTS: How they finished for the 450 Main in Seattle

Webb was disappointed to lose the ground to Tomac, but he will enter the Glendale, Arizona race with a red plate and a share of the points’ lead.

“It was overall a great night to get up front and get a second was great,” Webb said after the race. “Those few spots where I would get close to Eli and then make a mistake.

“The track was gnarly. It was no joke. It was cat and mouse as to who could ride the cleanest race and pick the line. I got off to a decent start, but Chase and Eli were ahead of me and I had some catchup to play and got into a good position.”

Early in the race, Sexton was indeed ahead of Webb and the remainder of the field. Another costly mistake sent Sexton to the ground. He battled back to finish fifth but is now 22 points out of the lead and in jeopardy of dropping out of championship contention unless Tomac and Webb have problems.

Rounding out the podium was Justin Barcia, who scored the third-place finish on his birthday

“Awesome ride,” Barcia said. “It was a lot of fun. I’m sure we kept the fans on their feet tonight. The track was gnarly. […] We’re searching; we’re so close to having that speed. We want it so badly. We’ll keep pushing hard and going for that win.”

Sexton’s mistake kept the three top points’ earners of 2023 from sharing the podium for the sixth time in 11 rounds, but the trio finished 1-2-3 in Heat 2 with Webb first, Sexton second and Tomac third.

The 250 West contenders were back in action after giving the last four rounds over to the East riders and Jett Lawrence picked up where he left off in Oakland: In Victory Lane. Lawrence scored his fourth win in five 250 West rounds. Last week his brother Hunter Lawrence tied Jett with 10 wins, but everyone knew it would not take long for Jett to regain the advantage.

Between them, the Lawrence brothers have won all but one race each in their respective divisions.

Lawrence rode a patient race in the Main. He settled in behind Stylez Robertson and concentrated on navigating the ruts mistake-free. He could not afford to be patient any longer when Cameron McAdoo caught up to the leaders. Lawrence found a second gear and gapped the battle for second.

An incident in their main made the battle between Lawrence and McAdoo more dramatic. While racing for second, the pair of riders ran out of room in the rhythm section. Both crashed but had a large enough lead over fourth to maintain their positions.

“It was a very eventful day,” Lawrence told NBC Sports’s Daniel Blair, answering a question about the earlier contact. “[…] It’s good to be back racing. It’s been a while. I feel like I’ve had another offseason. Glad to get out in one piece tonight.”

Lawrence now has a 23-point advantage over the field with four rounds remaining.

Click here for full 250 Main Results

RJ Hampshire finished second in his race and is second in the points after a seesaw affair that produced the final pass for position just before the white flag was displayed.

“I felt like I had a pretty good pace going for a little bit,” Hampshire said. “I closed the gap and then had a couple of big mistakes that almost put me on my head. I backed it off a little bit.

“Cam actually gapped me a little more than I would have wanted. I knew I could get a push there at the end. I thought that was the last lap, which is why my pass was a little more aggressive than it should have been, but I’m stoked to be able to close the gap a little bit.”

McAdoo took the final spot on the podium. This is the fourth time in 2023 these three riders have shared the box and if not for a sixth-place finish in Anaheim 2, he would be mounting a much more formidable challenge for the points’ lead.

“The track was really demanding tonight,” McAdoo said. “It did change a lot and the key thing was to get off the rhythms every time. We were swapping back and forth.”

Enzo Lopes in fourth and Max Vohland rounded out the top five.

Robertson had the early lead but when he lost the top spot to Jett he cross rutted on the next lap, crashed hard and failed to finish.

2023 Race Recaps

Detroit: Chase Sexton inherits win after Aaron Plessinger falls
Indianapolis: Ken Roczen gets first win in more than a year
Daytona: Eli Tomac extends Daytona record with seventh win
Arlington: Cooper Webb wins for second time, closes to two of Tomac
Oakland: Tomac ties Ricky Carmichael with 48 wins
Tampa: Webb gets first 2023 win
Houston: Tomac bounces back from A2 crash to win third race of 2023
Anaheim 2: Triple Crown produces new winners Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen
San Diego: Tomac, Jett Lawrence double down
Anaheim 1: Tomac wins opener for the first time

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