Kyle Larson’s Indianapolis 500 Rookie Test with Jeff Gordon, Rick Hendrick and Kyle Larson
PIT PASS INDY PRESENTED BY PENSKE TRUCK RENTAL– SEASON 3, EPISODE 42 – Kyle Larson’s Indianapolis 500 Rookie Test with Jeff Gordon, Rick Hendrick and Kyle Larson
October 17, 2023
Show host Bruce Martin has a great lineup for Pit Pass Indy Presented by Penske Truck Rental
Martin was at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last week for 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Larson’s Indianapolis 500 Rookie Test. Featured on this week’s episode is Larson, Hendrick Motorsports Vice Chairman and NASCAR Cup Series legend Jeff Gordon and Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick.
There was much more activity at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last week, and we will cover all of that in our next episode of Pit Pass Indy.
For more INDYCAR coverage, follow Bruce Martin at Twitter at @BruceMartin_500
"Penske" means performance ... and winning
For good reason. Since 1966, Team Penske has won 43 national championships, 17 IndyCar alone. Its 19 Indy 500 victories are a record. And last year, Penske was the first team in history to win both the IndyCar and NASCAR Cup Series championships in the same season. Those are results that are tough to top.
Speakers: Bruce Martin & Kyle Larson & Jeff Gordon & Rick Hendrick
This is Roger Penske and you're listening to Pit Pass Indy, sponsored by Penske Truck Rental.
IndyCar fans, it's time to start your engines. Welcome to Pit Pass Indy, a production of Evergreen Podcasts. I'm your host, Bruce Martin, a journalist who regularly covers the NTT IndyCar Series.
Our goal at Pit Pass Indy is to give racing fans an insider's view of the exciting world of the NTT IndyCar Series in a fast-paced podcast featuring interviews with the biggest names in the sport.
I bring nearly 40 years of experience covering IndyCar and NASCAR, working for such media brands as nbcsports.com, si.com, ESPN Sports Ticker, Sports Illustrated, Autoweek, and Speed Sport.
So, let's drop the green flag on this episode of Pit Pass Indy.
Welcome to this week's edition of Pit Pass Indy, presented by Penske Truck Rental.
It might be the off season, but there was a lot of action at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last week, including 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Champion, Kyle Larson running laps in the car he will drive in next year's Indianapolis 500.
It was the Rookie Orientation Program, and Larson drove the Arrow McLaren Chevrolet IndyCar through all three phases of the program.
Drivers must start ROP with 10 laps between 205 to 210 miles per hour, followed with 15 laps at 210 to 215, and finishing with 15 laps faster than 215 miles per hour.
In a rookie test that began at 11:00 AM Eastern Time, Larson completed phase one at 11:43 and phase two at 12:25 PM. At 1:18 PM, Larson completed the third and final phase and was able to spend the rest of his time on the track running laps at speed around the world's most famous race course.
His top lap was 217.898 miles an hour in the HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, fielded by Arrow McLaren in a joint effort with Hendrick Motorsports. That is Larson's NASCAR team, and 10-time winners of the Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Larson turns 72 laps with the fastest lap coming on his 65th trip around the 2.5-mile oval.
Larson was so good and so smooth on phase two of ROP that he went 15 for 15 on hitting the lap speeds of what was mandated to hit to pass that phase. It showed the comfort zone Larson was in.
After successfully completing Indy 500 ROP, Larson was off to Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where he drove to victory in the South Point 400. Advancing into the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race at Phoenix Raceway on November 5th.
Pit Pass Indy was at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last week to cover the action. And here's what Larson had to say about his first time driving in IndyCar.
Yeah, it was fine. It was, I guess mostly what I anticipated in a way. The speed and the grip didn't feel, thankfully, scarier than what I thought it might.
But there's like just how much the car wants to pull left and you have to kind of fight it back to the right and the straightaways and all that was something I didn't expect. The way the wheel was a lot lighter than the simulator, but still a little heavier than what maybe I expected.
But other than that, I thought it went really smooth. I think, more the pit road side of things is where I have to work more on, just the steering is so slow you have to turn so far to like get in and out if you're coming in around somebody or leaving, getting out around someone. Just getting used to the steering at the slower speeds, I think will be something to get used to.
And then just maximizing like the apron and braking for pit roads, stuff like that, I think is stuff I'll have to really focus on and work on. And that way, you're maximizing potential.
But overall, it was a great day. I felt like everybody at McLaren did a really good job prepping me to make things easier to get up to speed. So, thanks everybody there and yeah, glad to be through today, and look forward to the open test in April.
Larson was asked how difficult it was to hit the lower speed targets during the ROP rather than driving it full throttle.
Well, when you're running more throttle, it's easier to kind of hit your target. So, the slower the speed was just kind of hard for me to like figure out my timing.
Like I would roll out on the straightway and then I'd run wide open through one or two and I'd look at my dash and be like, “Okay, I think I'm okay for three and four runs throttle.” Then I come off four, I'm like, “Oh, I'm too fast.” And having to slow down a lot.
And then vice versa then I'm like try to like catch up on other laps and like barely getting by. So, yeah, once you went faster, you're just running more throttle. It's easier to kind of stay within that window.
Larson's parents were in Indianapolis last week because he won the high limit championship in sprint cars, but ironically, they were not at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Larson's rookie test. Kyle Larson tells us why.
So, yeah, I mean, they were here this week, and I was surprised when they weren't sticking around for today. They had to get home to California, but yeah, so I was surprised that they go to so many of my things and knowing how big this was, I thought they would.
They had to get home because my aunt was watching their dog and she was going to Hawaii, so they had to get back to get the dog, but if not for that, they would've been here.
But no, I'm sure I'll get to talk to them. I'll see them. I don't know if I'll see them this weekend in Vegas, but I'll call on the phone and talk to them and yeah, it's going to be really exciting I think next year when April and May comes around because it's going to be real then and getting ready for the race then.
But yeah, this is such a huge race to myself and my family and so many people that yeah, I'm just glad I get to do it.
Arrow McLaren sporting director, Tony Kanaan, the 2013 winner of the Indianapolis 500 is working closely with Larson as he learns the IndyCar at Arrow McLaren Racing.
But Larson has also, gotten some great advice from other drivers who have competed in the world's biggest race that have also come from NASCAR.
I mean, a lot of people have said the same thing like just trusting your instinct. Like if something doesn't feel right, at least during practicing and testing, the couple weeks leading in, like if you've got plenty of time. So, just if something doesn't feel right, just pit.
And I think me even just feeling the car today, like it feels so stuck. I can tell where your confidence could get too high and then you're backed in the wall in the next corner. So, I think if you feel something, just pit.
And I mean, Tony told me that. Danica was texting me last night, same thing. So, Kurt, Jimmy, they've all said the same thing.
So, I've got a lot of people I can talk to and I'm sure I'm going to be able to soak in more and more information now that I got to drive the car once.
Now, that Larson has driven an IndyCar at speed around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, what is his view of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway now?
Yeah, I don't really know if my views of this place have changed. I really love this facility. I think every time I come in, I realize more and more this is the most beautiful racing facility that we get the honor to go to. And I think Mr. Pensky's done a great job with it since he's taken over.
So, yeah, I mean, obviously getting to turn laps around here in an Indy car and getting to like feel what that feels like, it makes it even more special.
And I've gotten the chance to race here on the dirt track, I've done the road course, the oval. We get to thankfully come back on the oval in the Cup cars. So, this place is just awesome.
Golf course is amazing too. Love playing golf here, so it doesn't get much better than this place.
Larson goes into detail with the Rookie Orientation Program and the process that he did behind the wheel of his race car.
Yeah, it was really cool. And I don't know, I wanted to get up to speed. Yeah, I didn't want it to take too long to get up to the 205 mark because I didn't want to get made fun of like, “Oh, why it take you so long?”
So, I did put pressure on myself to like, man, get your confidence built up here pretty quickly.
And thankfully, after like three or four laps when I was able to judge off the turn, it's like, “Okay, we're within that.” The ROP is nice because I was not ready to go flat for a while. But building up to that speed and pace and confidence was nice to do an ROP.
But yeah, just getting to feel what an IndyCar feels like, be low to the ground. Fuel the acceleration through the gears was pretty crazy. All of that was eye opening and an experience that I know for sure I'll never forget.
And now, I look forward to kind of getting around cars and feeling how the dirty air affects things.
Hendrick Motorsports vice chairman, Jeff Gordon described Larson's racing ability as Kyle Larson mode. The driver was asked if he could explain what Kyle Larson mode really is.
And then I don't know what Kyle Larson mode is. So, I feel like me, Kyle Larson mode is a lot of over driving and a lot of mistakes.
But I don't know, I'm just fortunate I get to drive really good race cars in all forms of racing that I compete in with great crew chiefs, car owners. Rick Hendrick, his equipment is as good as it gets.
Cliff Daniels is the best crew chief in my opinion, in the Cup Series. Sprint car stuff, Paul Silva's the best team owner, greatest crew chief in sprint car racing. Dirt lane models, you go around for Kevin Rumley, like top of this game. If not the best, considered the best.
So, I'm just fortunate that I get to be around great cars. Arrow McLaren, all the people that they have around them. So, yeah, I'm just very lucky that I get to be driving these cars.
Obviously, it takes a lot of hard work on my part and on all that to get to that point. But still, I'm very fortunate to be in the position that I am, in all different types of racing.
Kyle Larson's top speed was 217 miles an hour at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Larson was asked if that's the fastest he's ever driven in any type of racing machine.
I've ever tested Michigan maybe in an ARCA car, like right after they rep paved it. And that's back when ARCA had the big horsepower and stuff. I think we went like 220 something into turn one at Michigan.
So, I think we were about that today in IndyCar. I would say because you're running by yourself, so like both times it didn't feel like … 220 on paper is like crazy fast. And obviously it is, but like when you're out there by yourself and this track is so smooth, it doesn't feel like you're going 220 or it doesn't feel any different than going like 195 in Daytona or something.
So, I did look at the wall one time thinking like, “Man, that would really hurt if I hit it.” So, things are obviously happening quickly.
But yeah, I think when you get around cars and you get passing, these Indy cars make such big runs because the tow is so big. And I think when people are blown by you so fast on a straightaway or you're doing the same with the tow that you get, I think that's when the sensation …
I don't know, Tony can probably speak on it, but I think the sensation is probably more when you're around other cars. And probably too when you go into qualifying trim, I think that's when it's going to be crazy.
I think going another 20 mile an hour faster, probably from 220 to 240 plus is probably a big difference in sensation. So, I'll get to experience that next year.
Larson explains in further detail what it's like behind the wheel of an IndyCar at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
I don't know, it's hard to say. I mean, you're processing a lot while you're out there and you're by yourself.
I think there was times when I got a lot of wheel in it and I would say yes, like the steering is quick until you get to a point and then it's not dead, but like you can keep turning and it's not as obviously as effective. So, that maybe in a way I could tell some similarities.
From talking to people, I think where it's become more similar is just the arrow balance shift between clean air and traffic. I think in that, and that's obviously not something I got to experience today because I was just by myself.
But yeah, I think as I get to being around cars, I think the difference of balance is where it's probably got a lot closer.
I think the style of our racing is trended more to them where now, maybe not every weekend, but a lot of places, especially like Daytona, Talladega, Atlanta, you're saving fuel to have a shorter pit stop and kind of get track position that way where it sounds like I think that's what IndyCar guys do a lot.
So, just the overall strategy of the race, I think is trended more like IndyCar than I think the cars in traffic has as well.
Kyle, did it feel natural to you out there at that speed in this car?
Yeah, yeah. I mean, it was harder to go slow. Like I said earlier, like it was hard to get yourself to run 205. So, I felt like I was happy with that because I felt like it felt fairly comfortable.
So, like I said, honestly, for the most part, it was everything I kind of expected. I watched a lot of [00:15:16] video and all that. We got to work on my line a little bit today.
Yeah, I mean, it felt nothing jumped out like it was a too much of a surprise. So, I was happy about that.
And the last time the Brickyard 400 went around the oval here was 2020. So, it's been a few years. The late John Andretti used to say the comparison between the two cars, it almost doesn't even look like the same racetrack. Did you get that sensation?
I don't know. The stock car stuff and the track conditions are really good obviously today, but the stock car stuff is just like slow and like I remember being like really tight. You went through one, like you're off the gas a lot and two would be tight. Three and four would have a better balance.
But like in IndyCar, I think because the track is really good, you have more down force probably than what we're going to have come back. All of that obviously way more down force in speed than a Cup car, but like the balance of all four corners felt way more similar than the stock car.
So, that's nice, I guess. But yeah, I don't know. I mean, overall, like width and stuff, the track did feel way different than what I remember.
Larson returns to NASCAR where he attempts to win his second NASCAR Cup Series Championship this season. But what is next for the driver in his Indianapolis 500 effort during the off season?
I just learned there was an open test like yesterday, so I don't know what other plans there are at least for me in the car before then.
We'll be right back to Pit Pass Indy after this short break.
Hey everybody, this is Josef Newgarden, winner of the 107th Indianapolis 500, and you're listening to Pit Pass Indy presented by Penske Truck Rental.
Welcome back to Pit Pass Indy.
By competing in the 2024 Indianapolis 500, Larson is making a lot of dreams come true, including for himself and his father Mike Larson.
But he is also, making a dream come true for Hendrick Motorsports vice chairman Jeff Gordon, who is from nearby Pittsboro Indiana and was a teenage racing star in the United States Auto Club on a path to the Indianapolis 500.
But fate would intervene, and Gordon's career trajectory took him to NASCAR where he became a racing legend with four NASCAR Cup Series Championships, three Daytona 500 wins, and 5 wins on the Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
His 93 career in NASCAR Cup Series wins is third on the all-time list behind Richard Petty's 200 and David Pearson's 105.
Here is what Gordon had to say after Larson's Indy 500 rookie test.
Yeah, hard not to really get excited for this opportunity for Kyle. And somewhere deep inside, wish that I had gotten an opportunity, but I'm absolutely having a blast watching Kyle through this process.
Seeing Rick here in Indianapolis and a part of an Indy car going around and being an owner and sponsor in this event. It'll be his first time witnessing this event at the same time. So, I'm so excited to see it through that lens.
And as Rick mentioned today was all about, there's been a lot of discussions, there's been a lot of planning. Today seeing it really going to unfold in reality and couldn't be more thankful of IndyCar, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, certainly Roger, and what an amazing facility this is that he has.
But to go out there and see what Arrow McLaren did as well to just get Kyle up to speed and through the test cleanly was great.
And then on the other hand, it's just Kyle watching him and his craft and his element. Like I could tell he was a little bit nervous, like my palms were sweaty before he got out on track myself.
And immediately you just see it click when he made those first few laps and he just went into Kyle Larson mode of, “Alright, now, how do I get up to speed and go fast.”
And he doesn't want to just come here and compete. He wants to come here and compete competitively.
Jeff Gordon explains his special memories of the Indianapolis 500 as a kid.
Yeah, I mean, again, for me, I come to this place, it's just so special to be here. I go back as a kid the first time I came here and my memories of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, my heroes, and see my first Indy 500 live and go to the museum.
And then it just seems so surreal that here we are having Kyle Larson, and Rick, and Hendrick Motorsports be a part of this effort. I mean, I think next May is just going to be just an experience that I'll never forget.
But it definitely was different walking in here today. It's one thing to be a competitor of your own, it's another thing to be supporting an effort and teaming up with a team like Arrow McLaren and just seeing how well that they prepared for today and how smooth it went.
And also, you guys have a NASCAR Cup Series Championship to contend for this week at Las Vegas and to be able to come here on a Thursday before heading to Las Vegas.
How difficult is that from the goal at hand trying to win the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Championship? And how much does it really emphasize how important this program is going to be?
Well, getting Mr. Hendrick here might be the toughest schedule to work around. He's a busy guy and I think it shows you how much he cares about this experience, supporting Kyle.
And for Kyle, I mean, that guy's off racing all the time, he's all over the place. So, the team is well prepared. He and Cliff have been prepping and planning for this weekend, and they're very well prepared for this next round. Feel very good about this next round.
This last round that was the nerve wracking one. We saw it all the way down the final lap at the oval.
So, yeah, from our standpoint, we're fortunate to have enough great people in depth at our organization to be able to prepare for what's ahead and really make sure that's the priority and the focus for the company is to go win a championship this year, get to this next playoff round and go to Phoenix, but also be up here and be able to enjoy a daylight today.
Gordon spoke of the trepidation he felt before Larson took to the track.
Well, and I think some of my nervousness was in conversations with him and just thinking of myself, put myself in the driver's seat of what would I be going through right now, when this is the very first time he's ever been in an Indy car and he's going to go out there and go 220 miles per hour only being here in a stock car before that, a simulator.
So, I think the most, I mean, Rick kind of alluded to this, but making sure we're doing it right and we're partnering with a great team to be able to make sure that this goes smooth and that we're aligned in a way that we can make it successful as well.
And I mean, we know what Kyle's capabilities are. We've seen him drive anything and everything and succeed at it.
But this is different and we're going to recognize that and he's going to get limited number of laps and experience before they're ready to start qualifying and getting prepared to compete in this race.
So, it's exciting on one hand and nervousness on the other, but I'm certainly going to live vicariously through Kyle through this experience. And just see how excited he is about it. And he clearly is.
Larson will attempt to become the next driver to compete in the double next May. That's running the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the same day. Gordon was asked the logistics of what will make all of that work.
Yeah, I don't even believe that we've gotten to the point of logistics for what's going to happen next May. We're taking it one step at a time, and getting Kyle fitted in the car.
And we came up here and visited with the Arrow McLaren guys, had lunch with them and just walked around the shop and just talked about the opportunity and the ways we could support it.
It's a nice collaboration that we're going to learn from one another from what they do in IndyCar, what we do in NASCAR.
So, this was certainly an important step. And we mainly were praying for good weather, and we got that perfect weather as a matter of fact. And then I haven't even had a chance to download with Kyle just getting him in the car.
But it's nice to see that first run and him click off those laps and get through phase one as quickly as he did. And once he did that, I was like, “Okay, I think we're on our way here to a smooth day.”
Gordon described his dream of running at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and how that ended up in a different type of race.
Yeah, I mean, I think for me, my dreams came true with an inaugural Brickyard 400, and racing here in the stock car. Of course, I wanted to race here in an IndyCar early on, but the opportunity just was really never there.
And so, when Kyle came on board, he made it clear that this is something he'd like to do and he'd like to do it before he feels like he's outside of his prime, I guess, is the best way to put it.
So, I got excited about that. I didn't know how Mr. Hendrick was going to feel about that, but I think between Kyle and myself and just the history of this place, it eventually kind of came together.
But yeah, this is definitely going to be living out a dream of mine through this experience. And I'm equally as excited to be a part of it in the capacity that I am and see it and hear about it through Kyle's eyes and experience.
We want to come here and make a mark. We also know this is one of the most competitive forms of motors sports and race in the world, and it's not going to be easy.
Gordon was not surprised with how well Kyle Larson did in last week's Indianapolis 500 ROP.
Well, of course I followed Kyle's career from when he was first getting into sprint cars. So, the first time you watch him behind the wheel of a race car, it's hard not to be impressed with the talent and his abilities.
I only got to race against him maybe a couple years there in the Cup Series, but having him now, out here, now, I see how serious he takes it. And you heard here, he's a humble guy as well.
That usually those two things, that talent and confidence and humble usually don't come in one package. So, I've just gained a great appreciation for him.
We're certainly fortunate to have him at Hendrick as one of our drivers. And I think Arrow McLaren and this whole team is going to feel the same way about having him been in IndyCar.
No, I'm looking forward to downloading with him a little bit further, just about the process and what does that grip feel like the first time going in the corner, cold tires on the apron or just race chat stuff.
But I've gotten pretty comfortable in the new role that I'm in, that being a race car driver and not being in the current cars and in the competition that they're currently in, my input is more of what can we do to make the race team stronger and better? The communication, to people that around them, the tools, and just provide the resources.
I mean, that's what Rick taught me and his role as an owner. And that's what I want to be there for. So, I'm probably more focused right now, on looking at the car and how do we position the logos and the sponsorship and we're capturing it all and to create some content. What can we do with that?
So, when me and Kyle talked, we talked, how was your last sprint car race and about the experience today. And then we'll do the same when we get to Las Vegas to talk about the Cup car this weekend.
We'll be right back to Pit Pass Indy after this short break.
Hi, I'm Scott McLaughlin, driver of the No. 3 Team Penske Chevy, and you're listening to Pit Pass Indy presented by Penske Truck Rental.
Welcome back to Pit Pass Indy presented by Penske Truck Rental.
Rick Hendrick is the winningest team owner in NASCAR history. Hendrick Motorsports has 14 NASCAR Cup Series championships and a record 301 NASCAR Cup Series victories. 10 of those wins came in the Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Hendrick also competed in the 24 hours of Le Mans in 2023 with the Garage 56 program that involved NASCAR and General Motors.
But next year, Hendrick will compete in the Indianapolis 500 for the first time.
Hendrick was at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Larson's Rookie Orientation Program. And here are his thoughts afterwards.
I guess today it was kind of a dream and something we were going to do today. You just kind of officially pulled the trigger. And you put the rookie test and seeing the Arrow McLaren guys working and the team, the preparation, everything's been very impressive. So, it's really cool to be here.
I really want to thank Roger for my name on the pile on there. I think that was quite an honor. I wasn't surprised to say that, but he told me today the track is mine.
But it's something that we — this is like home for Jeff and these tracks got so much history. And that never think we'd do this, but to be here today and watch it unfold was pretty special.
You guys were in the business of giving race fans goosebumps, but in a lot of ways, was it a goosebump moment for both of you when you saw that car coming down the front stretch at speed for the first time today?
Yes. Yeah, it didn't really hit me until I saw him. We had the car here when we had the unveiling, but when you hear it and see it come by and he's in it, that's when it really — it was goosebumps, it was pride, happy for him because it's some bucket list for him, but probably Jeff and I too.
But no, to hear it, see it, and watch the speed when it came by then, that brought it all to life. Just a big deal for us and the company, for everybody involved. And we want to do it right. We don't want to come up here and stump our toe and we know how hard it is.
And thank goodness we're team with someone like Arrow McLaren. When I watched the professionalism out there, just the tools and techniques that they use.
So, this is very, very important to us because no different than Garage 56. And we said we're going to do that. We spent a year, just whatever it took to do it.
And so, although we don't have as much to do in this situation as we did in that one, but still, we want to look the part, and be the part, and put our best effort into it.
Historically, Rick Hendrick has not allowed any of his NASCAR Cup Series drivers to compete in other forms of racing.
He explains why he changed his decision with Kyle Larson, who runs an extensive schedule of sprint car racing and other short track events throughout the year, in addition to next year's effort in the Indianapolis 500.
We always did not want them in anything other than a Cup car or Xfinity car. And when I first started talking to Kyle, and he convinced me that it made him sharper.
And then the first one of the shows I watched, they had a clip on Kyle Larson crashes. So, I called him and he said, “You weren't supposed to see that.” And I said, “Well.”
No, I think it does make our guys, helps him. I know William has followed in his steps and run other cars, and Chase too. And Alex got hurt. And this year is a pretty bad example. Alex gets hurt in the car and he's done racing those cars. But then Chase gets hurt on a snowboard. So, they've got to have a life.
And Jeff and I have talked about it, and I think it does make him sharper to get in other things and drive. I know one thing it would be hard to handle if he wasn't in those kind of cars. I'd have more problems with him.
If this effort goes well, Hendrick was asked if he might consider even more races in IndyCar.
I've learned not to commit or say I'm not going to do anything because I made a statement I wouldn't run Indy, and 30 days later I had to back it up and say, “I am going to do that.”
I think it's opportunities to present themselves. We kind of look at them and Jeff and I talk about it a lot and with all of our other teammates back at Motorsport. So, we like the race. We enjoyed the IMSA racing. We enjoyed Garage 56. I wish we had more places to run that car.
But our main goal is to win championships in NASCAR. But I've learned never say never, because he's got a lot more gas in his tank than I do in mine. But we're always looking at options.
And for Mr. H, you've got every type of racing trophy you can get in NASCAR, from NASCAR Cup Series championships, 10 Brickyard 400 victories, countless Daytona 500 wins. Where would you put a Baby Borg?
That would go right in the middle. I mean, that would be something pretty special. Well, I don't even let myself go there, think about that.
First of all, make the race. It would be just to say, we win this race, if we could win it. You might build on all from that, just that trophy and a car because it'd be that special. So, I'm going to do that. I'm not going to build.
Don't say things that you should pull back later.
We will be right back to Pit Pass Indy after this short break.
Welcome back to Pit Pass Indy presented by Penske Truck Rental.
Before Larson took his laps around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Team Penske driver and 2018 Indianapolis 500 winner, Will Power presented Rick Hendrick with a personally inscribed and signed helmet.
It was the Helmet Power wore in the 107th Indianapolis 500 on May 28th, 2023. It was Power's personal way of thanking Hendrick for helping to save his wife's life.
It was early January when Liz Power was stricken with a staph infection that ultimately settled in her spine. She was near death with a temperature of 106 degrees and Power needed the best medical experts in the Charlotte, North Carolina area to save his wife.
Hendrick stepped in and made arrangements with specialists who immediately began to help his wife.
After having emergency surgery to repair the damage to her spine from the infection, Liz Power is on the road to recovery and has made remarkable progress since.
I asked Hendrick about the special gift Will Power presented to him on October 2nd at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Yeah. Will, his wife was real ill in Charlotte, and she was going the wrong way. And he called and we got moved into another hospital and had some doctors join in and she came out of it.
I was surprised to get the helmet, but I was more than happy to help them through that difficult time. I'm glad she's okay.
But the helmet was a real surprise and a real gift. I told him I love trophies and helmets, and he said, “This means you’ll have more races this year.” But I did wear it at Indy 500, so I said, “That's good enough.” So, that was a great gift.
What did Will's helmet, the inscription, what did it say? And who were the doctors that you were able to get him in touch with?
Man, I don't even remember all the doctor's names. But Dr. Limentani there in Charlotte, gene Woods, CEO of Atrium helped. But Steve Limentani was a big influencer there lining everything up and getting her moved.
I don't remember exactly what he wrote on the shield, but it was something like it was, “Like nothing could say thank you enough for what you did.”
And just how heartfelt of a gift was that he was able to give to you?
He was almost emotional. And so, I got that way because he … and he'd almost lost his wife and I mean, he didn't. And it was touch and go and I think I've called to check on her, but when he walked up with that helmet, I had no idea he had something like that for me.
So, it's super special because when I look at that helmet, I'll think about life. I won't just think about a helmet, I'll think about a life.
And where will that helmet go?
The helmet will go into the man cave I have with Jeff's last helmet, Junior's helmet, Jimmy's last helmet, and so our 300 win helmet, the 269 helmet, so it's going to be in Tony Stewart's helmet. So, yeah.
I bet you have quite a man cave.
I got a lot of helmets, but this one's special.
Good to see you.
We’ll be right back to Pit Pass Indy after this short break.
There was much more activity at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last week and we will cover all of that in our next episode of Pit Pass Indy.
And that puts a checkered flag on this edition of Pit Pass Indy presented by Penske Truck Rental.
We want to thank our guests, 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Champion, Kyle Larson; NASCAR Cup Series legend and Hendrick Motorsports vice chairman, Jeff Gordon; and Hendrick Motorsports team owner, Rick Hendrick for joining us on today's podcast to speak about their efforts in the 108th Indianapolis 500 in 2024.
Along with loyal listeners like you, our guests helped make Pit Pass Indy presented by Penske Truck Rental, your path to victory lane for all things IndyCar.
And because of our guests and listeners, Pit Pass Indy is proud to be the winner of The Best Podcast by the National Motorsports Press Association.
For more IndyCar coverage, follow me at Twitter @BruceMartin (one-word, uppercase B, uppercase M) _500.
This has been a production of Evergreen Podcasts. A special thanks to our production team. Executive producers are Brigid Coyne and Gerardo Orlando. Recordings and edits were done by me, Bruce Martin, and final mixing was done by Dave Douglas. Learn more at evergreenpodcasts.com.
Until next time, be sure to keep it out of the wall.