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Kyle Larson Qualifies in Fifth Position for First Indy 500 Start

Kyle Larson fifth in Indy 500 qualifying 2024 Indianapolis 500

Photo Credit: Penske Entertainment: Joe Skibinski

The expectations continue to grow for generational driving talent Kyle Larson. The Hendrick Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series driver, who is competing in his first Indianapolis 500 this season, locked his spot in the field for the prestigious race in qualifying on Saturday. Incredibly, Larson didn’t just lock himself into the field, but he advanced to the Fast 12.

Sunday, Larson ratcheted up things even further by advancing to the Fast Six, and after running a four-lap average of 232.846 mph in the Fast Six round of qualifying, Larson officially secured a top-five starting spot in his first Indianapolis 500 attempt.

After climbing from his No. 17 Arrow McLaren race car, Larson credited his IndyCar team and everyone at Hendrick Motorsports for allowing him to check this off of his bucket list, and for the incredible effort to make the car as fast as it has been.

“I think just a great team, really,” Larson explained when pressed about how he is running so well in his first Indy 500 qualifying attempt. “And they’ve prepared an awesome race car that is stuck to the race track, and also has speed. Qualifying went a lot better than I ever could have hoped or anticipated. Just proud of everyone at Arrow McLaren, and proud of everybody at Hendrick Motorsports that has been involved in this. Huge thank you to Rick Hendrick, Linda, the Jeffs — Jeff Gordon and Jeff Andrews — Cliff Daniels, Chad Knaus. Everybody involved to make this possible.”

There’s no time to rest or celebrate the run for Larson, as he is immediately taking off to North Wilkesboro Speedway, where he will try to win the NASCAR All-Star Race in a few hours.

“Now, to switch the mindset over to the heavy stock car and try to go figure out North Wilkesboro. Excited to get there and to chase a million bucks,” Larson stated before continuing his march to the helicopter ride.

While Larson will start in the middle of the second row of the 2024 Indianapolis 500, the battle for the Indianapolis 500 pole was between Team Penske teammates Scott McLaughlin, Will Power, and Josef Newgarden, who all put on a show in Fast Six qualifying.

Newgarden was the first of the three to go out in the final round of qualifying, and he impresed with a 233.090 mph four-lap average. But little did we know, that wouldn’t hold a candle to the speed shown by his teammates.

Power would clock in an average lap speed of 233.917 mph, but McLaughlin would crush everyone by breaking the 234 mph barrier with a four-lap average of 234.220 mph to secure his first-career Indianapolis 500 pole. The four-lap average is the fastest pole-winning run in Indianapolis 500 history.

Alexander Rossi will start next weekend’s Indy 500 from the fourth position and Santino Ferrucci will roll from the sixth position.

Prior to the Fast 6 qualifying round, six drivers were eliminated from Indianapolis 500 pole consideration in the Fast 12.

Rinus Veekay (232.610 mph average) will start the Indianapolis 500 from the seventh position, and he’ll be joined in Row 3 by Pato O’Ward (232.584), and Felix Rosenqvist (232.505).

Row 4 will be held down by two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Takuma Sato (232.171), Kyle Kirkwood (230.993), and Ryan Hunter-Reay (230.567).

Four drivers also battled for the final three positions in the Indianapolis 500 field on Sunday in the one-hour last chance qualifier round.

Katherine Legge, former Indianapolis 500 champion Marcus Ericsson, and Graham Rahal advanced to the starting field in the Last Chance Qualifier.

“Relieved and ready to get after it,” Legge, who was the fastest of the four drivers in the session, said. “But it’s just so emotional. The amount of pressure and stress and everything else in like an hour of your life is ridiculous. I really wish I would have went to college and got a proper job.”

Ericsson worked his way into the field with a last-gasp qualifying run in the final minutes of the session. Ericsson accidentally let off the gas a lap early during his first attempt at his last chance qualifying run. As he sat on pit road with his back against the wall, Ericsson let his car cool off, and he went out and got it done.

Nolan Siegel, who was bumped from the final starting spot in the field with two minutes remaining, went on track for one final attempt at clocking into the field. Unfortunately, Siegel crashed on the second lap of his run, and he will miss the field as a result.

Rahal, who will roll from the final starting spot in the Indianapolis 500 field gave a glowing review of Siegel, who came up short.

“Nolan, most of you guys don’t know his name, but you will,” Rahal said. “He’s won in every class and category he’s been in. I’ve watched him. I’ve known the kid since 10 years [ago]. He was a little, little guy then. You’re going to know his name in the future. He’s a winner, and he’s going to be winning at this level soon.”

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