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Kyle Larson Advances to Fast 12 in Indianapolis After Engine Issue on First Run

Kyle Larson Indy 500 Qualifying Fast 12

Photo Credit: Karl Zemlin, IMS Photos

Kyle Larson has officially qualified his way into the 2024 Indianapolis 500.

Driving the No. 17 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet, the NASCAR Cup Series champion not only secured his position in the 33-driver field for the 2024 Indianapolis 500, but because of a stellar qualifying run, has guaranteed himself a spot amongst the first four rows, advancing to the Fast 12 Shootout.

It didn’t come without its share of adversity, though.

Originally scheduled to be the sixth driver posting a qualifying run on Saturday, Larson ran into some mechanical problems while on the final lap of his four-lap segment, which forced the Arrow McLaren team to call the 31-year-old driver back to the pit lane.

After qualifying was complete, Chevrolet’s Jim Campbell confirmed that what Larson had experienced during his qualifying run was a plenum event – a misfire in the engine that causes the fuel inside the plenum of the fuel injection system to ignite, resulting in a sudden drop in engine torque.

Arrow McLaren scrambled to get the issue fixed, getting Larson back on the racetrack to finally post a complete time just after 2:00 p.m. ET when he ripped his entry around Indianapolis Motor Speedway with an average speed of 232.563mph, ranking him sixth overall.

“I’ll definitely take that,” Larson told Dave Burns after his qualifying run. “Hopefully, that’s enough to make the Fast 12 for tomorrow. That would be really cool. But, yeah, happy with the balance of the car and proud of the team here, for all of us not freaking out after not getting to complete that first run. Just great to be in the show, just a huge thank you to Arrow McLaren, Hendrick Motorsports, and especially Rick Hendrick, I know he’s watching back at home, just an awesome opportunity, and having a blast so far too.”

Now, with Saturday’s qualifying session complete, Larson will advance to the Fast 12 Shootout on Sunday. Should the Hendrick Motorsports driver place top-six in that session, he’ll move on to the top-six and challenge for the Indianapolis 500 pole position– and that, as far as returning to North Wilkesboro for the NASCAR All-Star Race, is where things get sketchy.

“I feel like the nerves were a lot less going the second time, even with not completing that first run,” Larson added. “I just felt less nervous. it’s just good to get a run in. I don’t ever get to qualify like that, where you get multiple shots at it, so those are one-lap matters, but this you can forfeit a run. Just getting that run and not completing it was fine, and felt much more comfortable there that last time.”

It’s been a heck of a week for Larson, who has battled against poor weather conditions, a pair of engine issues – one of which necessitated an engine change – and more adversity to show some legitimate speed, which many are inclined to believe could take the NASCAR driver to a solid finish in the Indy 500.

Larson was the only one of the seven Indianapolis 500 rookies to advance into the Fast 12, making him the highest-qualifying of them. He’ll be honored at a National Dairy Association event on Tuesday, and receive a $10,000 prize — in addition to getting to milk the cow, of course.

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