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May 26, 2024

With Kyle Larson in Indianapolis, Justin Allgaier preps — quickly — for Coca-Cola 600 start

Justin Allgaier started Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 in the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in place of Kyle Larson, who remained in Indianapolis to compete in the weather-delayed Indy 500.

Allgaier, who drives full-time for JR Motorsports in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, was with the Hendrick team in the garage Sunday afternoon going through final systems check.

Heavy rain and severe weather in Indianapolis forced a lengthy delay to the start of the Indianapolis 500, the first race Larson planned to run as part of his attempt at the “Double.” With that race slated to start at approximately 4:45 p.m. ET, the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion didn’t make it back in Charlotte in time for the green flag of today’s Cup Series event.

Because Larson qualified the No. 5 Chevrolet car Saturday, the driver change meant Allgaier started from the rear of the field.

“Which makes it even more difficult,” Allgaier told reporters with a laugh. “It does give me some time to get acclimated to the car. … This car is still really, really different (than the Xfinity Series car). We’re going to have challenges.

“The goal obviously is to start and go as hard as we can. If you lay up at all at the beginning of the race, you’ll go a lap down early. I have to get acclimated within the first few laps to do my job well.”

A few more notes on today:

Larson will need a waiver from NASCAR to qualify for the 2024 Playoffs. The Rule Book states all playoff drivers must start every race, but NASCAR can award a waiver for extenuating circumstances.

With Allgaier starting the race, he is the official driver of record. That means if Larson joins the race in progress and puts the No. 5 in Victory Lane, it would be a win for Allgaier.

Because he will not start the race, Larson will not receive points — even if he finishes the race in the No. 5 car.

“No matter what time Kyle gets here, I want to give him the best opportunity to win the race,” Allgaier said. “There is no doubt in my mind he’s got the opportunity to win both races. My goal is to keep him get as far forward as we possibly can.”