IndyCar fans might not appreciate Kyle Larson's Indy 500 admission

Kyle Larson has reportedly indicated that he would skip the second round of Indy 500 qualifying to run a NASCAR exhibition race.
Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR
Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR / Sean Gardner/GettyImages

2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Larson is set to become just the fifth driver to attempt the Memorial Day Double this May, first competing in IndyCar's Indy 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and then flying down to Charlotte Motor Speedway to compete in NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600.

No driver has attempted the feat since Larson's former teammate, Kurt Busch, in 2014, and no driver has successfully run all 1,100 miles of the Memorial Day Double since Tony Stewart recorded finishes of sixth and third place in 2001. Larson is set to do it in both 2024 and 2025 after signing a two-year deal with Arrow McLaren with support from his Cup Series team, Hendrick Motorsports.

Behind the wheel of the No. 17 Chevrolet, Larson is set to get his first true taste of the Indy 500 this week in IndyCar's two-day open test at the four-turn, 2.5-mile (4.023-kilometer) Speedway, Indiana oval. While he has taken part in multiple IndyCar tests before, he has never done so in traffic.

Indy 500 qualifying is set to be intense again this year, with multiple drivers set to fail to qualify for the first time since 2021. All indications point to there being 35 drivers going for 33 spots in the 200-lap race.

The fastest 12 drivers in the opening round of qualifying, which is scheduled for Saturday, May 18, are set to advance to the second round of qualifying on Sunday, May 19, and the top six in that session are set to advance to the Firestone Fast Six shootout for the pole position later in the day.

The 13th through 30th place drivers are all locked into their starting positions from Saturday, while all remaining drivers risk missing the race entirely and must make further qualifying attempts in the Last Row Shootout on Bump Day Sunday.

According to Fox Sports' Bob Pockrass, Larson has indicated that that weekend's NASCAR All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway, a race he won last year, is the priority and that he would skip Sunday's portion of Indy 500 qualifying if the schedules conflict.

Kyle Larson Indy 500 take won't set well with IndyCar fans

To be fair to Larson, being a NASCAR Cup Series driver is still his full-time job. But while his comments comparing his Indy 500 test to an ARCA car (effectively three levels lower than the Cup Series) than may have been taken out of context, Larson has never been shy about always having something "better" to do, even better than his prioritized full-time job.

The dirt racing star has a way of minimizing the significance of certain big events/series that others revere, to the point where it comes across as him diminishing their relevance to motorsport -- or even being "too good". The Chili Bowl, for instance, is, to him, bigger than the Daytona 500.

And that's fine. He has a right to his own opinion, and he is the one driving the car constructing his own career path. I'm sure there are plenty of other drivers who would agree with him, and he happens to be one of the most talented drivers, pound for pound, in the world. There's nothing wrong with that.

But with the Indy 500 being the biggest race in the world, the most attended single-day sporting event in the world, and an event that attracts hundreds of thousands of racing traditionalists/purists, the fact that Larson would effectively blow off a shot at the pole position for a non-points NASCAR race won't sit well with many.

And understandably so.

It's an event than demands drivers to be all-in. It's why only four drivers have done the Memorial Day Double. It's an event that should not take a backseat to anything else, especially not for the driver who is apparently considered one of the series' biggest stars (despite having never competed in an IndyCar race).

This is something that Larson has talked about wanting to do for years. Now that it's finally here, the All-Star Race is suddenly more important?

It is worth noting that Larson isn't guaranteed to compete in the qualifying shootout; he would need to be in the top 12 in the opening round of qualifying first, and it certainly won't be easy. And it's not like he's talking about missing the race itself to compete in an exhibition race.

It's also very possible that he can do both even if he does advance, depending on the schedules for both events that weekend. So it's only right to let things play out rather than totally crucify him for being honest.

And if he manages to have success, more power to him.

Next. NASCAR race winner can finish outside of the top 10 in points. NASCAR race winner can finish outside of the top 10 in points. dark

But you do have to wonder what his plan would be in the event that the Indy 500 and/or the Coca-Cola 600 end up being delayed or postponed due to bad weather from their traditional start times on Sunday, May 26. Which is more important?