Indy 500: Possible Kyle Larson replacement taking part in test?

Tony Kanaan taking part in an Indy 500 refresher test in case he is called upon to fill in for Kyle Larson on race day remains a possibility.
Kyle Larson, Arrow McLaren, Hendrick Motorsports, Indy 500, IndyCar
Kyle Larson, Arrow McLaren, Hendrick Motorsports, Indy 500, IndyCar / Gary Mook/For IndyStar / USA TODAY

When Tony Kanaan said before the 2023 Indy 500 that it would be his final Indy 500, he actually meant it this time. Though his initial "Last Lap" tour was slated for 2020, he ended up returning in 2021, 2022, and 2023 to run the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing" again and again and again.

Now Indy 500 qualifying weekend is in the books, and Kanaan is not one of the 33 drivers on the starting grid for Sunday afternoon's 200-lap race around the four-turn, 2.5-mile (4.023-kilometer) Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval.

That hasn't been true since 2001, which was before Kanaan had ever gotten the chance to compete at the Speedway, Indiana venue in IndyCar.

Kanaan was poked fun at in the aftermath of last year's Indy 500, with fellow drivers and fans noting that they were already looking forward to his next edition of "one more time" in 2024.

Tony Kanaan set for IndyCar return

Though he meant what he said, Tony Kanaan could be back in an IndyCar this week -- and yes, he would be doing so of preparation of competing in the 108th running of the Indy 500 on Sunday.

Kyle Larson is set to attempt the Memorial Day Double, first by competing for McLaren-Hendrick (a partnership between Arrow McLaren and Hendrick Motorsports) at Indianapolis and then flying to Charlotte Motor Speedway to compete in NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 for Rick Hendrick's Cup Series team.

As a full-time NASCAR Cup Series driver, he has unsurprisingly emphasized that the Coca-Cola 600 is the priority.

With the Indy 500 scheduled to get underway at around 12:30 p.m. ET and the Coca-Cola 600 scheduled to get underway shortly after 6:00 p.m. ET, logistics suggest Larson can become the fifth driver to ever pull it off.

But bad weather could wreak havoc on those plans.

Kanaan was confirmed as Larson's backup driver last week. Now there are talks of the fan-favorite potentially being allowed to take the No. 17 Chevrolet for a test run on Thursday to complete the mandatory Indy 500 "refresher course" for series veterans who no longer compete full-time.

While IndyCar has not yet confirmed if Kanaan would be eligible, given that he did not take part in qualifying, there is indeed a block of track time set for Thursday.

Bottom line: if need be, Arrow McLaren's new sporting director could very well find himself back in the Indy 500 for a 23rd straight year in the coming days. There just might be a few more hoops to jump through first.

Kanaan won the race back in 2013, doing so by extending the race record with a 68th lead change moments after the final restart. A caution a few moments later neutralized the field, and Kanaan took the checkered flag to score one of the most popular Indy 500 wins in recent history.

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NBC is set to broadcast the Indy 500 live from Indianapolis Motor Speedway beginning at 11:00 a.m. ET this Sunday, May 26. Fox is set to broadcast the Coca-Cola 600 live from Charlotte Motor Speedway beginning at 6:00 p.m. ET later on. Start a free trial of FuboTV now and don't miss any of the action!