‘Same level as Max Verstappen’ – Indy 500 star receives huge endorsement from rival driver

Thomas Maher
Kyle Larson, McLaren, 2024 Indy 500 Qualifying.

Kyle Larson as good as Max Verstappen? One of his IndyCar rivals believes so...

Former F1 driver turned IndyCar star Alexander Rossi believes Kyle Larson could compete with Max Verstappen in equal machinery.

The American driver briefly raced against Max Verstappen in F1 as their careers overlapped in 2015, but Rossi believes he has seen enough of the Dutch driver’s skills to claim he can be matched by NASCAR star Kyle Larson.

Alexander Rossi: Kyle Larson is ‘The Man’

Larson is set to make his Indy 500 debut this weekend, competing for Arrow McLaren after qualifying in fifth place in last Sunday’s track action at the Brickyard.

Following this display, Larson then flew to North Carolina to take part in NASCAR’s All-Star race that night where he finished fourth at North Wilkesboro Speedway.

This Sunday, he’ll be taking part in two races as well – taking on the Indy 500 as well as the Coca-Cola 600 by flying to Charlotte.

Rossi, who will compete in the Indy 500 as Larson’s teammate, believes the 31-year-old could absolutely compete with Max Verstappen if the opportunity arose.

“Dude,” Rossi told the Associated Press, “I think he’s [Larson] already towards the top, so I don’t know. Put him at the top? Like, he’s ‘The Man.’”

Asked whether he’s as good as Verstappen, the standard-setter for all racing drivers in the world in 2024, and Rossi has no doubts.

“I would say they’re on the same level,” Rossi said.

“Which is like, yeah, that’s a pretty big deal.”

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With Larson one of the favourites to win the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600, Rossi said he’d be quite annoyed if the NASCAR star is able to pull off the win in his debut race – just like Rossi managed back in 2016.

“Wow, damn. I’ll be so annoyed,” Rossi said of a Larson win.

“I’ll understand how everyone else felt when I won. Is he capable of doing it? Yeah. Would I be happy for the team? Yeah. Would I be internally annoyed? Yeah.

“We know he’s good but, for him to come into our world, and in his first event win, like, that doesn’t reflect well on us.”

But while Rossi thinks Larson could match Verstappen in equal machinery, the man himself said he doubts he could keep up with the Dutch driver in F1 or IndyCar machinery.

“Not in an F1 car!” Larson said.

“I can’t beat him in an F1 car. And I bet he can beat me in an Indy car, just based on his street and road course experience.”

But where Larson feels he could compete with Verstappen is in sprint machinery.

“I mean, I hope I can beat him in a sprint car,” Larson said.

“[But] I don’t understand how this can even be a thing. If you don’t run multiple disciplines, how can anyone say you are the best?”

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