Sunday July 14th, 2024 10:46PM

Larson arrives in Charlotte; set to take over for Allgaier following rain delay

By Steve Reed AP Sports Writer

CONCORD, N.C. (AP) — Kyle Larson arrived at Charlotte Motor Speedway and will take over driving the No. 5 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports at the Coca-Cola 600 when the race resumes following a rain delay.

After finishing 18th at the rain-delayed Indianapolis 500, Larson flew in two helicopters and one plane to make it back in time to finish NASCAR’s longest race.

Justin Allgaier started the race in the No. 5 car and was running in 13th place with 151 laps to go when the race was red-flagged.

Track officials estimated it would be at least 30 minutes before the race resumed.

Larson arrived at the track on a golf cart, jogged to his pit stall in his fire suit and then put on his helmet and prepared to get into the car. As he was doing so, the race was stopped.

Allgaier, who runs primarily in the Xfinity Series, was selected to replace Larson because they have a similar body type and seat setup.

Larson hoped to become the first driver since Tony Stewart to run all 1,100 laps at the double, but rain in Indianapolis quickly nixed those plans. The four-hour delay forced Hendrick Motorsports use a backup driver.

Larson finished the Indy 500 with about 120 laps into the 400-lap Coca-Cola 600, then departed for Charlotte.

Under NASCAR rules, Larson is not allowed to participate in the playoffs unless he starts every race. However, Hendrick Motorsports will be able to submit a waiver to NASCAR, asking for an exception to the rule.

Christopher Bell is leading the Coca-Cola 600.

The first half of the race had nine race leaders with William Byron and Bell winning the first two stages.

Ryan Blaney’s bid to become the first back-to-back winner of the Coca-Cola 600 since Jimmie Johnson in 2004-05 ended when his front right tire went down on lap 143, sending him and the No. 12 Ford into the wall and ending his night.

“I just came off pit road and put tires on it and I don’t know if I ran over something, but one of them blew,” Blaney said. “I blew a tire going into (turn) three, so I don’t know if I hit something or what, but it’s kind of odd. We’ll have to go back and take a look at it. It stinks.”

Former President Donald Trump watched the race alongside car owner Richard Childress atop the pit box for the No. 3 Chevrolet.

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