Kyle Larson announcement was bad news for Kyle Busch

Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, Kyle Busch, Richard Childress Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, Kyle Busch, Richard Childress Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

Kyle Larson is set to compete for Arrow McLaren in the Indy 500 both in 2024 and 2025. Is the door closing on a potential Kyle Busch opportunity?

Two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch has long been discussed as a candidate to potentially run the Memorial Day Double, first by competing in IndyCar‘s Indy 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and then by flying to Charlotte Motor Speedway to compete in NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 on the same Sunday.

Just four drivers have ever pulled it off, the most recently being Kyle’s brother Kurt in 2014. Kyle had a ride lined up to run the race in 2016 before one “boss”, that being Joe Gibbs Racing Cup Series team owner Joe Gibbs, wouldn’t allow him to do it.

Even after winning a second Cup Series title in 2019 and being given approval by Gibbs to seek Indy 500 options with Chevrolet teams, with Cup Series manufacturer Toyota being a global rival of Honda, he was unable to land a ride in 2020, 2021, or 2022.

Now at Richard Childress Racing, a Chevrolet Cup Series organization, Busch also has approval to seek rides with Chevrolet teams, and he had been doing that for several months.

However, Busch recently admitted to Fox Sports’ Bob Pockrass that he is no longer making calls to IndyCar teams in an attempt to land an Indy 500 ride.

While it is a race he has long wanted to run, he has conceded that he doesn’t know if it will ever happen.

Of course, that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. He could always change his mind and try to reach out again, especially with next year’s race being more than 12 months away. There is still time.

And of course, there are quite a few competitive teams in the Chevrolet camp that could reach out to him without it being seen as much of a surprise. Team Penske have run an extra Indy 500 car before, as have Ed Carpenter Racing.

But it is Kyle Larson’s Indy 500 deal with Arrow McLaren that was the ultimate blow to Kyle Busch’s chances here for a few reasons, as he noted.

Most importantly, Busch had been in advanced talks with Arrow McLaren about competing in this year’s Indy 500. They ultimately opted to put 2013 winner Tony Kanaan in their fourth car, prioritizing his experience ahead of what will be his 21st and final Indy 500 start.

So the ensuing decision to put Larson in their fourth (or potentially fifth) car for 2024 — and later 2025 as well — came as a bit of a surprise. For as capable as Larson is of driving anything with four wheels, he too has zero IndyCar experience.

He also has far less experience at the four-turn, 2.5-mile (4.023-kilometer) Speedway, Indiana oval, where Busch was a two-time Brickyard 400 winner before the race moved to the road course layout after 2020.

Busch certainly doesn’t appear to be nearing the end of his racing career. But come 2026, which would be, on paper, the earliest year in which he could drive an Arrow McLaren Chevrolet at Indy, he would be 41 years old, and making a debut in the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” that late in one’s career is tough to do.

It may be even tougher to convince an organization — any organization, for that matter — that it’s the right move.

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This year’s Indy 500 is set to be broadcast live on NBC from the Racing Capital of the World beginning at 11:00 a.m. ET, with pre-race coverage set to begin at 9:00 a.m. ET, on Sunday, May 28. Begin a free trial of FuboTV and don’t miss any of it!