Kyle Larson had a very decent day going in Sunday’s Ruoff Mortgage 500 at Phoenix Raceway, as he had rallied from starting in the rear of the field to score Stage Points in Stages 1 and 2. Larson had positioned himself as a solid top-five to top-10 contender all race long.
But on lap 239, it all came apart for the driver of the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports driver.
Larson, who had been complaining of issues with his engine, was told by crew chief Cliff Daniels to come to pit road so the team could take a look under the hood. As Larson pulled it to pit road, the No. 5 team quickly diagnosed the issue as a broken valve spring.
As a result, Larson would take the No. 5 car behind the wall and he is officially done for the day.
The 29-year old driver says he isn’t sure what caused the failure, but that he had been suffering from the issue for a few laps before finally pulling the car behind the wall.
“I don’t know. I felt it four or five laps before it, it was just getting worse,” Larson explained. “I hate it, our Valvoline Chevrolet was pretty good. I thought we were a fourth or fifth place car. Was hoping to be a little better than that, but unfortunately the valve spring broke.”
Larson continued by saying, “Hate that. Everybody at the Hendrick engine shop are some of the smartest people out there. I know they’ll address the issue we’ve had the last couple of weeks with these engines and come back strong and reliable.”
"We'll come back strong and reliable."@KyleLarsonRacin will suffer a rare DNF today after a valve spring failure ends the @Hendrick5Team's day early.#NASCAR #RuoffMortgage500 pic.twitter.com/px5o4TFZbN
— NASCAR on TSN (@NASCARonTSN) March 13, 2022
The California-native, who scored the NASCAR Cup Series championship a season ago, entered the day as the point leader after scoring a win at Fontana and a second-place finish last week at Las Vegas.
While it looked like momentum was building for Larson heading into Phoenix, he now has two DNFs in the first four races of 2022.