Indy 500: Only one driver can possibly replace Kyle Larson

With Tony Kanaan out of the picture, there is only one driver who can possibly replace Kyle Larson in the 108th running of the Indy 500.
Kyle Larson, Arrow McLaren, Hendrick Motorsports, Indy 500, IndyCar
Kyle Larson, Arrow McLaren, Hendrick Motorsports, Indy 500, IndyCar / Gary Mook/For IndyStar / USA TODAY

Kyle Larson competing in the 108th running of the Indy 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this Sunday is not a guarantee, even after he qualified in fifth place during the Firestone Fast Six qualifying session this past Sunday afternoon.

The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion is attempting to complete the Memorial Day Double, but because he is a full-time Cup Series driver, his priority is to be at Charlotte Motor Speedway for Sunday night's Coca-Cola 600.

So if bad weather becomes a factor at the four-turn, 2.5-mile (4.023-kilometer) Speedway, Indiana oval, Larson could need a replacement driver behind the wheel of the No. 17 McLaren-Hendrick Chevrolet.

Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 winner who serves as Arrow McLaren's sporting director and has served as Larson's driver coach ahead of his expected IndyCar debut, had been viewed as Larson's backup driver. However, he did not get any track time during practice week, so he would need to complete a veteran refresher course before being allowed to compete.

It has now been confirmed that Kanaan will not complete that course, thus taking him out of contention to replace Larson for the 200-lap race itself.

Kyle Larson replacement possibilities narrowed down to one

Based on the rules, Kanaan's ineligibility means that only one driver would actually be eligible to replace Larson, and that driver is one whom Arrow McLaren are indeed reportedly considering: Nolan Siegel.

Of the 34 drivers on the Indy 500 entry list, Siegel was the only one who failed to qualify for the race this past weekend. After his crash during the Fast Friday practice session, the No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda simply did not have the pace to lock him into the 33-car field, and he crashed again on Bump Day during his final qualifying attempt of the afternoon.

Siegel is the only driver without any commitments on race day among those who have fulfilled the necessary requirements to be able to compete in the Indy 500. He completed his Rookie Orientation Program and got plenty of track time during practice week and qualifying weekend.

Though there is no guarantee that Arrow McLaren would actually replace Larson if the need were to arise, what has become clear is that Siegel would be the next man up.

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The 108th running of the Indy 500 is set to be broadcast live on NBC from Indianapolis Motor Speedway beginning at 11:00 a.m. ET this Sunday, May 26, and the green flag is scheduled to fly shortly after 12:30 p.m. ET, weather permitting. Start a free trial of FuboTV now if you have not already done so!