Larson finishes 18th in first Indy 500 attempt; misses 2024 Coca-Cola 600

Kyle Larson capped off an eventful day and month of motorsports competition leading up to Memorial Day weekend on a bittersweet note that resulted with his plans of performing ‘Double Duty’ between the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 being partially spoiled due to on-track precipitation and resulting with him campaigning in the former over the latter.

The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion from Elk Grove, California, commenced his planned ‘Double Duty’ task by opting to remain at Indianapolis Motor Speedway to compete in this year’s 108th running of the Indy 500 with Arrow McLaren on Sunday, May 26, despite the event being delayed by four hours due to a heavy stream of precipitation.

Qualifying in fifth place during last Sunday’s qualifying session with a four-lap average-qualifying speed of 232.846 mph in two mintutes, 34.6083 seconds, Larson, who started the main event on the second row, dropped one spot on the track amid a multi-car wreck on the opening lap that knocked Pietro Fittipaldi, Tom Blomqvist and the 2022 Indy 500 champion Marcus Ericsson out of contention.

Then during the next restart period on the ninth lap, Larson endured a brief scary moment when he fell off the pace after missing a gear and getting his car to launch at the start. Larson’s gearing issues resulted with the Californian dropping to 14th place as he made wheel-to-wheel contact with Ryan Hunter-Reay through the frontstretch. Amid the contact, Larson was able to keep his No. 17 McLaren Dallara-Chevrolet pointing straight as he remained within 14th place in the early stages.

After gaining two spots on pit road following his first INDYCAR pit service amid another caution period for Katherine Legge having a mechanical issue, Larson would remain in the top 15, starting through the event’s next restart period on Lap 26.

Over the course of the event, Larson, who would carve his way back into the top 10 on the track, was scored in ninth place by the Lap 50 mark before he moved up to seventh place at the halfway mark on Lap 100. Through a steady pace on the track and stellar pit stops from his team, Larson would run as high as fourth place on the track.

Then during a late cycle of green flag pit stops with 69 laps remaining, Larson’s strong run was foiled after he smoked his front tires while trying to reduce his speed to enter pit road while running in the top five. Amid his pit service, Larson would be assessed a drive-through penalty for speeding on pit road. After serving his pass-through penalty, Larson was mired back in 22nd place on the track.

During the final round of green flag pit stops that commenced with nearly 30 laps remaining, Larson, who was on a different pit strategy compared to the leaders, would lead his first lap in the Indy 500 with 20 laps remaining. He would lead the next four laps before he surrendered the lead to pit for the final time under green with 16 laps remaining. Returning to the track, Larson would cross the finish line in 18th place, which made him the lowest-finishing Arrow McLaren competitor of the day while his teammates Pato O’Ward, Alexander Rossi and Callum Ilott finished second, fourth and 11th, respectively.

“I would definitely love to be back next year,” Larson said on NBC. “I feel like I learned a lot throughout the race. [I] Felt like I did a really good job on the restarts and was able to learn a lot. Obviously, I smoked the left front [tire] or something into the green flag stop and killed our opportunity, so proud to finish, but pretty upset at myself. If I just could’ve executed a better race, you never know what could happen. Bummed at myself, but huge thank you to Arrow McLaren, Hendrick Motorsports, Hendrick Automotive Group, Rick Hendrick, Chevrolet, everybody that’s a part of this. We’ll go hop on a jet and see if I can get into the [Coca-Cola] 600 somehow.”

By the time Larson arrived at the track from his helicopter, however, the event, which had started without Larson present, was under a caution period due to precipitation and eventually red-flagged on Lap 249 of 400. By then, Justin Allgaier, an Xfinity Series veteran for JR Motorsports who was selected to serve as Larson’s standby competitor, had piloted the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 up to 13th place after Allgaier was forced to start at the rear of the field due to a driver change.

Eventually, the event was made official by NASCAR due to the precipitation around the Charlotte Motor Speedway circuit, with Christopher Bell claiming the rain-shortened victory and Allgaier being credited for 13th place by both starting and finishing the event while Larson, who had planned to contest in 1,100 miles between the Indy 500 and the Coke 600, was unable to pilot his No. 5 entry for a lap.

As a result, this season marks the first time where a competitor attempting the double during Memorial Day weekend ends up competing in one event over the other since Robby Gordon ended up only competing in the Indy 500, which was delayed by three hours and caused him to miss the Coke 600.

By missing this year’s Coca-Cola 600, Larson, who snaps a 121-race starting streak, and Hendrick Motorsports have yet to submit a waiver request to NASCAR that would keep Larson eligible to make the 2024 Cup Series Playoffs. In addition, Larson, who came into the Coke 600 with a 30-point lead in the 2024 Cup Series regular-season standings, drops to third place in the standings, but trails points leader Denny Hamlin by six points and runner-up Martin Truex Jr. by one.

With his 2024 Indianapolis 500 start complete, Larson shifts his focus back to his full-time Cup Series role for the upcoming series’ event at Gateway’s World Wide Technology Raceway for the Enjoy Illinois 300. The event is scheduled to occur next Sunday, June 2, and air at 3:30 p.m. ET on FS1.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of


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