Larson Kicks Off Month Of May In Grand Fashion


Kyle Larson opened his Month of May with a NASCAR Cup Series win Sunday night at Kansas Speedway. (HHP/Jim Fluharty photo)

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Kyle Larson is going to have, perhaps, the busiest Month of May he’s ever had in his life, but he got it off to a rousing start Sunday night at Kansas Speedway.

A win over Chris Buescher in the closest finish in NASCAR Cup Series history – .001 of a second – marked just the beginning of Larson’s whirlwind journey through the fifth month of the calendar year.

Larson will race at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway during NASCAR Throwback Weekend on May 12 before juggling the schedules of the two biggest races of the month, as he attempts to do Double Duty by competing in both IndyCar’s Indianapolis 500 and the Cup Series’ Coca-Cola 600 on the same day.

That process starts during the weekend of May 18-19, when Larson will participate in day-one qualifying for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing with Arrow McLaren before flying back to North Carolina for that Sunday night’s NASCAR All-Star Race at historic North Wilkesboro Speedway.

Because Larson won’t attend All-Star practice the day before, FOX NASCAR analyst and recently retired NASCAR Cup Series driver Kevin Harvick will strap his firesuit back on to prep Larson’s No. 5 Chevrolet.

Providing he makes the Indy 500 field, Larson would then return to Indianapolis after the All-Star Race for the May 24 Carb Day final practice, before practicing and qualifying his Hendrick Motorsports Chevy at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Coke 600 on Saturday, May 25.

Then comes #Hendrick1100 race day, as Larson plans to compete in the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race for the first time on Sunday, May 26, with an anticipated green-flag time of 12:45 p.m. ET, before hopping a flight to Charlotte immediately after for 600 more miles of racing on NASCAR’s longest night.

Larson Buescher Elliott Truex Kansas

Kyle Larson (blue car) crosses the line in a photo finish to win at Kansas Speedway. (HHP/David Graham photo)

And oh, by the way, he plans to mix in some sprint car races with owner Paul Silva during the month also.

But before all of that, Larson relished the moment Sunday night after earning his 25th career Cup Series victory in the most thrilling of fashions.

In a door-banging run to the checkered flag, Larson got to the outside of Chris Buescher and reached the start-finish line first by roughly one inch – if not less – in a finish that required video review to determine the winner.

Even in spite of what’s coming up for the 31-year-old from Elk Grove, Calif., Larson tipped that Sunday’s Kansas thriller is something that will stick in his mind for the rest of his life.

“I’ll always remember it, for sure,” he said. “I think there are definitely wins that you can kind of get lost in the distance a little bit, but when you finish and have the closest – to this point – finish in Cup Series history, I don't think you're ever going to forget about it. Even if it gets broken someday, I’ll have memories of this one.

“Just great to be on this [winning] side of it. I probably would still remember it, though, if I ran second.”

Looking ahead to his first try at the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, Larson knows he still has a lot to learn during the two-week lead-up to race day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“I don’t think anything is quite real in practice like what I’ll experience in the race,” Larson explained after the April 10 open practice for the Indy 500. “I think I’m going to be overloaded during the race trying to process information … but for practice, like the few laps I got in the second session, there was a lot of checking up for some reason getting in the corner. I think that kind of helped me realize that I needed to look further ahead than the one car that’s in front of me.


Kyle Larson in action during the Indy 500 Open Test in April. (Walt Kuhn/Penske Entertainment photo)

“I don't know, just the cars to me feel very similar to a stock car, in a way. Everything that I feel out there is like what I would expect from a 9 a.m. practice session in a stock car at the Brickyard 400,” he added. “Cool conditions, [you’ve] got grip, all of that. We wouldn’t be running around here wide open in a stock car. But the way the tires feel and all that seems relatively similar.

“It’s going to be interesting to see how it all plays out come race day.”

Asked if this year’s Month of May is the most exciting time of his life, Larson chucked before downplaying slightly what he’s getting ready to attempt.

“I don’t know. [My life] stays pretty exciting, I feel like,” said Larson, who annually races winged sprint cars and dirt late models in addition to his NASCAR schedule. “The way the schedule lines out, though, for sure there are several good tracks for us as well as others. We had a good run last week [at Dover Motor Speedway], finished second, and then got a win this week where I felt like we’d have a good shot. Obviously, going to Darlington I know we’ll have a good shot.

“Then Indy starts, which is really cool. It gets kind of hectic for a couple weekends, with North Wilkesboro and [Indy 500] qualifying and obviously the two races. … Hopefully, we can do the 500, get everything to go smoothly, and get to the 600 and have a good shot there,” he continued. “With some sprint car races intermixed in all that … [life] is just really fun, honestly.

“To this point, it just feels normal to me. It doesn't feel like it's crazy different than real life typically is for me.”

It will get crazy soon, however, as Larson attempts to become the fifth driver in history – and the first since Kurt Busch a decade ago – to pull off Double Duty, often described as one of the most difficult feats in all of motorsports.

Tony Stewart is the only driver to complete all 1,100 miles of racing in one day, doing so in his final attempt at the Double in 2001. Larson hopes that he’ll be able to become the second.

It’ll be another jewel in his already illustrious career if he can do so, or as some have labeled it in the past, “Just Kyle Larson doing Kyle Larson things.”

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About Jacob Seelman

Jacob Seelman is Motorsports Hotspot’s News Editor and Race Face Digital’s Director of Content, as well as a veteran of more than a decade in the racing industry as a professional, though he’s spent his entire life in the garage and pit area.