Arrow McLaren considers Kanaan and Siegel to be potential 500 subsidiaries for Larson

With lightning and heavy rain in the forecast for Sunday, currently calling for nearly two inches of rain to fall at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Mother Nature may derail Kyle Larson’s plans to compete in both the Indy 500 and the 600-mile NASCAR race at Charlotte Motor Speedway . The latest forecast for Sunday has a 50 percent chance of bad weather hitting IMS roughly two hours before the green flag at 12:45 PM ET and staying in until the early evening, which could push the 200-lap competition to Monday.

To prepare themselves for the possibility of Larson losing his full-time job in NASCAR on Sunday, the Arrow McLaren team and the IndyCar Series have begun discussing options to keep the No. 17 Arrow McLaren Chevy in the field. If the heavens open and force Larson to leave for North Carolina.

Arrow McLaren sporting director Tony Kanaan has been the team’s backup plan in recent months. With former driver David Malukas injured, the 2013 Indy 500 winner was one of the primary options to get into the No. 6 Chevy, but that role was filled by Callum Ilott.

Although the team and series were not ready to make any official statements, they both confirmed to RACER that they are evaluating a potential refresher round for Kanaan – who bid farewell to the Indy 500 with Arrow McLaren last year and finished 16th – later this week.

If it rains on Sunday, but is dry enough to start the race after Larson leaves, Kanaan will be cleared to drive after the activation period ends. If rain delays the 500 race until the day after the Charlotte NASCAR race, the team and Larson will have to decide how they want to proceed.

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Rick Hendrick also hinted at the possibility of keeping Larson at Indy at the expense of competing in the Cup race.

“We’ve talked about it a few times, and we know we need to be in Charlotte to get points,” Hendrick said. “We’ll let it play out, and then me, Kyle and Jeff Gordon, we’ll make that decision on Sunday.

“The pressure of being in the race and starting from a great starting position and knowing that we have 600 meters to race, it’s going to be pressure all day long. How’s the race going? Is it going to rain? What time do we have to leave to go back to Charlotte? It’s going to be fate.” Huge pressure, but we nailed it. We’re in the race. Kyle is a heck of a talent. I just hope the weather cooperates and we can finish the race.

RACER also understands a scenario where Kanaan is not used while Larson’s backup is considered and Dale Coyne Racing bumper driver Nolan Siegel, who has been approved to race without having to do a special session in the car, could be enlisted to drive the No. 17 chevy. No stranger to McLaren CEO Zak Brown, who co-owns the United Autosports sports car team, Siegel will drive next month in the LMP2 class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The precedent of using a crash driver was seen as recently as 2023 when Stefan Wilson was injured and unable to drive for the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing/Cusick Motorsports team after suffering a rear-end hit during post-qualifying practice. Crashman Graham Rahal was recruited to drive Wilson’s No. 24 Chevy, which was carried over from the No. 25y The starting point is at the back of the field. If such a situation occurred with Larson and the No. 17 Chevy qualifying fifth, Siegel would be expected to start 33rd.

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