Race Weekend Central

Kyle Larson Gets 18th in 1st, but Maybe Not Final, Indy 500

SPEEDWAY, Ind. ā€” Kyle Larson wasn’t able to complete “The Double,” but the open-wheel rookie did run all the laps in his first Indianapolis 500 on Sunday (May 26). It’s an experience that may just be the beginning, not the end, of his NTT IndyCar Series career.

“I would definitely love to be back next year,” Larson told NBC Sports.

Larson ultimately finished 18th in the joint 2024 Indy effort between Arrow McLaren and Hendrick Motorsports. However, the results don’t show how fast and consistent he was throughout the race.

See also
Josef Newgarden Wins Indianapolis 500 for the Ages With Last-Lap Pass

“I’m proud to finish, but I’m pretty upset at myself,” Larson said. “If I just could’ve executed a better race, you never know what could have happened.”

The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion was slated to run in the Indy 500 as well as NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday for a grand total of 1,100 miles. But rain and lightning ruined the plan, as the Indy 500 was delayed four hours.

See also
Josef Newgarden Wins Indianapolis 500 for the Ages With Last-Lap Pass

Despite leading the points in Cup, Larson elected to stay at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and miss the start of Charlotte’s 600-miler.

Focused on the task at hand, Larson then drove a smart race through most of the event ā€” surviving while a lot of his competition crashed out. He didn’t show front-running speed but seemed fast enough to finish in the top 10.

Unfortunately, Larson’s IndyCar inexperience caught up to him. Early on, he messed up on a restart, a mistake that cost him several positions and forced him to fight through traffic. Then, after climbing back to sixth, he followed it up by speeding on pit road during a green-flag pit cycle.

“I feel like I learned a lot throughout the race,” Larson said. “I made a lot of mistakes. Earlier on the restart, not sure what I did wrong there… [but other than that], I feel like I did a good job on the restarts and was able to learn a lot. Definitely feel good about knowing what I need different for the balance coming back to help run some stuff.

“And then obviously, I smoked a left front or something into the green flag stop and killed our opportunity.”

See also
'I Need Redemption' - Katherine Legge Plans to Resolve Unfinished Business at Indianapolis

Larson was able get his lap back after a late caution, but the damage was done. The California native was ultimately unable to climb back up the field although some pit strategy allowed him to lead the race late, pitting for fuel later than most in the hopes a yellow flag might scramble things up.

In the end, it’s a first step toward what should be another opportunity. Larson signed a two-year deal with Arrow McLaren, leaving him open to return to drive in the Indy 500 next year. That’s when he can complete what he set out to do and potentially run all 1,100 miles of The Double.

As soon as Larson got out of his No. 17 entry, completing his TV and radio interviews, an SUV picked him up on pit road and whisked him off as he turned his attention toward his next race.

“We’ll go hop on the jet and see if I can get into the [Coca-Cola] 600 somehow,” Larson said.

He did miss the start of the Coke 600, not arriving in Charlotte until after halfway into the race. Relief driver Justin Allgaier started the event in the No. 5 Hendrick Chevy, keeping Larson from collecting any NASCAR points.

NASCAR is almost certain to grant Larson a waiver that leaves him playoff eligible despite “missing” the event.

Follow Michael Massie on X @m_massie22

About the author

Michael.massie 113x150

Michael Massie joined Frontstretch in 2017 and has served as the Content Director since 2020. Massie, a Richmond, Va., native, has covered NASCAR, IndyCar, SRX and the CARS Tour. Outside of motorsports, the Virginia Tech grad and Green Bay Packers minority owner can be seen cheering on his beloved Hokies and Packers.

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

Share via