INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Kyle Larson said the Indianapolis 500 appears to be the “priority” as a severe storm was expected to push back the start of the race, putting the NASCAR star’s hopes of completing it and the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte later Sunday in doubt.

Fans were evacuated from the grandstands at Indianapolis Motor Speedway about 90 minutes before the 12:45 p.m. EDT start of the race, at which point the worst of the storm was expected to arrive. There was hope that a window before more storms came through would provide enough time to dry the track and finish at least 101 laps, making the race official.

Larson is trying to become the fifth driver to do “The Double,” and the only driver besides Tony Stewart in 2001 to complete every lap. The preparation has been ongoing for more than a year, though the weather was hardly cooperating.

“I think our plan is to keep this as a priority,” said Larson, who would need to receive a waiver from NASCAR to miss the Cup Series race at Charlotte. “I think I would be here racing. But I’m actually bummed about that in a way. I wanted it to just rain out today. With the rain coming, I’d rather it be a bigger storm and last longer.”

Larson hoped enough rain would force the Indy 500 to be run Monday, allowing him to start both races.

“But it looks like it’s going to be that window where I guess we might be able to get it dry to race today,” Larson said, “but obviously that affects things for the 600. It’s still the weather. You don’t know how that is going to go exactly. But the worst-case scenario is happening, which is a bummer. We’ll get on the track in something today.”

Larson is starting fifth in the Indy 500 in the No. 17 car for Arrow McLaren in a joint venture with Hendrick Motorsports, his NASCAR team. Rick Hendrick was at Indianapolis Motor Speedway to watch Sunday, and while Larson was not supposed to miss the Cup Series race, the NASCAR team owner wavered a lbit earlier in the week when asked about the weather.

“We’ve talked about it many times, and we know we need to be at Charlotte for the points,” Hendrick said. “We’re just going to let it play out … (and) we’ll make that decision Sunday.”

Larson was planning to follow the blueprint used by others who attempted both races: He would finish the Indy 500, take a helicopter to a nearby airfield, board a private jet to Charlotte, then climb aboard another helicopter for the last hop to Charlotte Motor Speedway. If the Indy 500 began on time, he would have just enough time to make it for the start.

With the start of the race delayed, Larson and his team would be forced to make a difficult decision.

“It would be very hard. It would be very tough,” Hendrick said of the possibility of pulling Larson from the Indy 500 early. “We’ve got a tremendous amount of folks there at Indy, and he’s in such a good position, it would be extremely hard.”


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