INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Kyle Larson completed every lap of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, finishing 18th in the NASCAR star’s debut in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” despite a pair of rookie mistakes that cost him a chance to be in the mix at the end.

Then he hopped into an SUV, headed to a waiting helicopter and was off to the Cup Series race in Charlotte.

Larson was attempting to become the fifth driver to do “The Double” by running the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 in the same day. But when a severe storm brought pre-race festivities to a halt in Indianapolis, and pushed back the start of the Indy 500 by four hours, Larson was left to choose between the IndyCar race and the NASCAR race.

He wound up staying at the Indy 500, where he fulfilled one of his career ambitions just by taking the green flag.

“I would definitely love to be back next year,” Larson said afterward. “Feel like I learned a lot. Made a couple of mistakes early there with the restart — not sure what I did there. Feel like I did a really good job after that and was able to learn a lot.”

Larson started fifth and spent most of the 200-lap race — won for the second time in a row by Josef Newgarden — hanging with the leaders. But he made a minor mistake going through the gears on an early restart and lost about 10 spots, then made a major one later in the race, when Larson locked up the tires entering pit road and was caught speeding.

Larson was sixth at the time but had to drive through pit road again to serve the penalty, shuffling him outside the top 20. He managed to pick up a couple of spots over the last 70 laps but never got a caution that could have given him a chance.

“It killed our opportunity,” Larson said of the pit-road mistake. “Could have executed better.”

Even though Larson had no chance to complete every lap of both races, he insisted on finishing the day in Charlotte, where Justin Allgaier had started the Cup Series race in his place. There were about 275 of the 400 laps left to run there, and Larson hoped to climb into his No. 5 car in time to take a second checkered flag.

“I’ve been around Kyle a little bit through my career. He’s a remarkable driver,” NASCAR driver Noah Gragson said, “and to be able to see one of our guys who we’ve raced with every weekend go and try a different discipline of motorsports is really cool.”

Arrow McLaren fielded the car for Larson in a partnership with Hendrick Motorsports. With rain in the forecast all week, the big question entering Sunday was whether NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick would pull the plug on the effort and send Larson to Charlotte early so that he could race for stage points and help his chances in the Cup Series playoffs.

But when the rain ended, a spokesman for Hendrick Motorsports confirmed that the Indy 500 would be the priority.

Hendrick was on hand in Indianapolis to watch the race, along with Jeff Gordon, the vice chairman of Hendrick Motorsports who largely grew up in Indiana and once dreamed of running the Indy 500. They were joined by hundreds of other fans who gathered around the No. 17 car when it was pushed to the grid about an hour before the drop of the green flag.

The storm that swept through Sunday wasn’t the first to disrupt Larson’s plans. He had several days of practice washed out — partially or entirely — earlier in the month, limiting the amount of time he was able to spend in the car.

Larson’s attempt at “The Double” had captivated those within the racing world. Most of his Hendrick Motorsports team flew to Indianapolis on Friday to watch the final practice on Carb Day, and drivers back in Charlotte were watching the start of the rain-delayed Indy 500 before heading to their own cars and getting ready for the start of the Cup Series race.

“I’m excited from the NASCAR side, but I’m more excited from the sprint car side, to see another sprint car guy go to the Indianapolis 500,” NASCAR driver Chase Briscoe said. “It’s kind of the origins of Indy. You had these sprint car guys who would go and run — you had A.J. Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Jack Hewitt, Bryan Clauson recently — and that was always the thing. If you were the best sprint car guy, you wanted to run the Indy 500. That was the dream. So it’s cool from that standpoint.”


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