NASCAR: Possible Kyle Larson replacement emerges for the Coca-Cola 600

Kyle Larson not running the Coca-Cola 600 may seem far-fetched, but there is reportedly a backup plan if he cannot make it to the NASCAR Cup Series race on time.
Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, Coca-Cola 600, Charlotte Motor Speedway, NASCAR
Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, Coca-Cola 600, Charlotte Motor Speedway, NASCAR / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Larson has long emphasized that, in the event that inclement weather becomes a factor, the Coca-Cola 600 is his priority over the Indy 500 as a part of his upcoming attempt to become the fifth driver to ever run the Memorial Day Double.

With Larson being a full-time NASCAR Cup Series driver, his decision makes sense. If he has to pick between one race or the other, he is obviously going to go with the NASCAR Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway over the IndyCar race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The obvious hope is that no issues arise, and both races are run as scheduled with no changes due to weather. However, I'm pretty sure that everybody -- including Rick Hendrick himself -- would find it hard to believe that Larson is leaving the state of Indiana during a late red flag period if he is in the mix for the win behind the wheel of his No. 17 McLaren-Hendrick Chevrolet.

Kyle Larson Indy 500/Coca-Cola 600 backup plan

Arrow McLaren sporting director and 2013 Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan, whose 2023 Indy 500 effort was said to be his last, is said to be the backup driver for Larson if the race gets delayed to the extent where the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion cannot compete.

However, in the event that Kanaan is unable to complete the required veteran refresher test ahead of time, the team are reportedly considering Nolan Siegel, the lone driver who took part in qualifying this past weekend but failed to qualify for the race after crashing his Dale Coyne Racing entry.

The Hendrick Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team also apparently have a backup plan in place, presumably in the event that Larson is running late.

According to Fox Sports' Bob Pockrass, the expectation is that JR Motorsports Xfinity Series driver Justin Allgaier is Larson's standby driver at Charlotte.

JR Motorsports is partially owned by Hendrick, and Allgaier is the driver who filled in for Jimmie Johnson, ironically at Indianapolis, in July 2020 after Johnson's late (and debatable) positive test for COVID-19.

If it comes down to it, Allgaier would be allowed to start the race and have Larson take over for him whenever the 2021 Coca-Cola 600 winner arrives.

Leading up to this past weekend's All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway, while Larson was practicing and qualifying for the Indy 500, Kevin Harvick filled in for him behind the wheel of the No. 5 Chevrolet in practice and qualifying, but he is not an option this weekend.

After qualifying fifth for the Indy 500, Larson flew to North Wilkesboro and drove from 20th (last) place to a third place finish in the All-Star Race.

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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. The Coca-Cola 600 is set to be broadcast live on Fox from Charlotte Motor Speedway beginning at 6:00 p.m. ET later on. If you have yet to begin a free trial of FuboTV, do so now and don't miss any of the action!