Photo: Walter G. Arce/ASP, Inc.

Pit Road Speeding Penalty Derails Larson’s Indy 500 Debut

By David Morgan, Associate Editor

SPEEDWAY, Ind. – A decision to stay in Indianapolis for his debut in the Indianapolis 500 instead of heading to Charlotte for his NASCAR Cup Series duties seemed to be paying off for Kyle Larson – until it wasn’t.

After a four-hour rain delay pushed the Indy 500 to a late afternoon start, Larson and his team made the decision to stay in Indianapolis to give Larson a chance to compete at Indianapolis.

Earning his worth as a part of the four-car Arrow McLaren stable of Chevrolets in Sunday’s 108th running of the Indy 500, Larson was hanging tough in the top-10 for the first 132 laps, learning the intricacies of NTT IndyCar Series racing as he went, until everything unraveled on a green flag pit stop.

Larson came into the pits too hot, locking up the front tires on his sponsored machine, exceeding the pit road speed limit and drawing a pass-through penalty from series officials as a result.

After serving his penalty, Larson dropped off the lead lap to 21st place.

Following a crash by Will Power that brought out the caution, Larson was able to take the wave around to get his lap back with 46 laps remaining.

Larson would cycle to the lead on pit strategy, putting himself at the top of the leaderboard for four laps before having to peel off onto pit road for his final stop.

In the final rundown, he would be classified with an 18th place finish, with the entirety of his experience only amplifying his want to return to Indianapolis again and make another run at the Double.

“I would definitely love to be back next year,” said Larson. “I feel like I learned a lot throughout the race. I made a couple of mistakes early there with the restart. I’m not sure what I did wrong there, but I somehow got myself into third. I feel like I did a really good job on the restarts and was able to learn a lot.

“Definitely feel good about knowing what I would need different for the balance coming back to help runs and stuff. And then obviously I smoked a left front or something into the green flag stop and killed our opportunity.

“Proud to finish, but pretty upset at myself. If I could have just 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, Valvoline – everybody that’s a part of this.

“We’ll go hop in the jet and see if I can get in the 600 somehow.”

With Larson running in Indianapolis, Justin Allgaier climbed behind the wheel of his No. 5 Cup Serie Chevrolet to start the Coca-Cola 600, with Larson scheduled to take over driving duties when he arrives in North Carolina.

Soon after the conclusion of the Indy 500, Larson had a car waiting to take him to the airport to catch a flight to Charlotte where he will see what he can do on NASCAR’s longest night.

Just past halfway, Allgaier had Larson’s car on the lead lap at the back end of the top-20.

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David Morgan is the Associate Editor for Motorsports Tribune. A 2008 graduate from the University of Mississippi, David has followed NASCAR since the early 90’s and became hooked at an early age after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. He has traveled across the country since 2012 to cover some of the most prestigious events both IndyCar and NASCAR have to offer, with an aim to only expand on that in the near future.