Kyle Larson's Indianapolis 500 qualifying attempt could derail NASCAR All-Star plans

DOVER, Del. (AP) — Kyle Larson ran into his first speed bump in his busy May.

Larson next month will become the fifth driver in history to attempt to complete “ The Double ” and run 1,100 miles in one day, starting with the Indianapolis 500 in an Indy car and then flying to Charlotte to drive in the Coca-Cola 600, NASCAR’s longest race of the year.

But ahead of the milestone attempt, Larson will stay in Indianapolis on May 17 to practice for the 500 rather than travel to North Wilkesboro Speedway to practice and qualify for the NASCAR All-Star race.

He is expected to qualify for the Indy 500 on May 18 before — barring any complications — he travels to North Carolina to compete in an All-Star heat race later that night. The All-Star race at North Wilkesboro is May 21, hours after the top 12 cars on the starting grid is set in Indianapolis.

“Hopefully, I'll be able to run a heat race,” Larson said. “I hope to make it back in time for the race itself. Kind of don't really know yet. Kind of depends on how the week is going in Indy. For sure, won't be able to practice, I know that.”

Larson’s next time on the track at Indy won’t be until May 14, when IMS opens for Indy 500 preparations. Larson is running an entry co-fielded by McLaren and Hendrick Motorsports, his NASCAR team and Rick Hendrick’s first entry into the Indianapolis 500.

“I need to get as much laps in Indy as possible,” Larson said. “The plane will be ready for me to go whenever it's free for me to leave.”


What in the name of an amphibious-like glove is going on this season at Team Penske?

Cheating has seeped into Roger Penske's teams in both IndyCar and NASCAR.

Two-time NASCAR champion Joey Logano's infraction now seems innocuous — he was fined $10,000 and docked his second-place starting position for a NASCAR race at Atlanta this season because he was wearing an illegal glove during his qualifying — compared to the scandal this week that rocked Penske's IndyCar team.

Reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Josef Newgarden blinked back tears Friday as he accepted blame for manipulating the push-to-pass system — essentially a short-term power boost — in his season-opening IndyCar win that has since been stripped.

Team Penske teammate Scott McLaughlin, who finished third, also was disqualified while fourth-place finisher Will Power was docked 10 points though he wasn’t accused of any wrongdoing. The Penske drivers were fined $25,000 because the manipulated systems were on all three cars.

“They’re grown-ups, they have to deal with their issues," NASCAR driver and 2002 Daytona 500 champion Austin Cindric said. “Those are guys that I look up to. A lot of those guys, not just Josef and Scott but a lot of those guys on that team.”

Cindric plainly said “no” when asked if Team Penske had suffered a hit to its reputation. He has reason to defend the team beyond his role as driver; his father, Tim Cindric, is president of Team Penske.

“The only problem I have with the entire situation is, any time Roger Penske's credibility is questioned, I say ignorance,” Austin Cindric said. "And that's what frustrates me with all of it. The rest of it, look, it's racing, people make mistakes. Either believe or don't believe whatever you hear. That's life. But the rest of it, if there's anyone that has credibility in the motorsports world, it's Roger Penske.

“To see some of the very ignorant comments I've seen, it bothers me a lot because I can't think of a better role model, a better leader, and a better person to be in the position than he is than Roger.”


Jimmie Johnson races in Dover for the first time since 2020. Johnson has won a track-record 11 times, and the mile-concrete track remains the site of his last Cup victory in June 2017.

Johnson returned to NASCAR last season with an ownership stake in Legacy Motor Club and only races sporadically each season. He finished 28th in the Daytona 500 and was 29th earlier this month at Texas Motor Speedway.

Dover leaned into the anticipation of his return by selling a ticket package that included a meet-and-greet with Johnson and team ambassador Richard Petty.

Legacy fields cars this season for John Hunter Nemechek and Erik Jones. Jones is out at Dover with a back injury.

“The reason we run the third car — the reason that I’m out here — is to help our two primary cars,” Johnson said. “It is not to help me. It is upon me to study, learn, ask the right questions, listen in. I don’t want to take anything away from the 42 or 43 programs. I’m really here to help.”


Tyler Reddick’s win last weekend at Talladega kept Ford out of victory lane again this season.

Logano has just three top-10 finishes in his No. 22 Ford this season while the Stewart-Haas Racing four-car fleet hasn’t won in any of the last 94 races.

“You look at Ford right now, yeah, we need some speed from that department,” Logano said. “You look at your other Ford compadres out there and see how they’re doing. The facts are, we haven’t won yet. We’ve got to keep fighting and trying to find every little ounce of speed we’ve got in that thing.”

Logano joked he gives Ford executives feedback, “kind of whether they want it or not.”

“Usually, if I think it, I’m going to say it,” said Logano, the two-time Cup champion. “Together, we’re going to work together to fix the issues. As a driver, that’s kind of a little bit of your job. You’re the one that’s inside the car and can feel it. So you’ve got to work together with the engineers to try to put the feelings into numbers and start working on it.”

Logano is 0-for-27 lifetime at Dover.

“I’m not putting this whole thing on Ford, don’t get me wrong,” Logano said. “The 22 car has to be better in a lot of areas, as well.”


Larson is listed as the 5-1 favorite to win at Dover, according to BetMGM. He won the October 2019 race when Dover still held two NASCAR weekends each season. The 31-year-old Larson has led the most laps at a single track (899) in his Cup Series career at Dover. In 15 starts at Dover, Larson has one win, seven top-five finishes and 11 top-10s. He has led over 80 laps on five occasions at Dover and has never finished outside the top five in those races. He has run the most laps in the top five this season (1,532) and is in a six-way tie for the most top-five finishes with four.