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May 26, 2024

Kyle Larson finishes 18th in his first Indianapolis 500

Kyle Larson looks on during qualifying at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Joe Skibinski
Penske Entertainment

Inclement weather dashed Kyle Larson’s dream of completing “The Double,” but the driver of the No. 17 Arrow McLaren Dallara Chevrolet did lead laps on his way to an 18th-place finish in his first Indianapolis 500 on Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

By staying out as the leaders came to pit road late in the race, Larson found himself at the front of the field with 21 laps remaining. However, Larson ultimately had to come to pit road for service and gave up the lead with 17 laps left.

Josef Newgarden of Team Penske and Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward then dueled down the stretch, with Newgarden passing O’Ward on the final lap for the win. It was Newgarden’s second Indianapolis 500 victory.

“I would definitely love to be back next year,” Larson, the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion, said after the race. “I feel like I learned a lot throughout the race. I made a couple of mistakes early, but felt like I did a really good job on the restarts. … Obviously, I smoked a left-front or something on the green-flag stop and killed our opportunity. I’m proud to finish, but I’m pretty upset at myself. I just could have executed a better race. You never know what could have happened.”

Larson had fought his way back up to sixth place after spinning the tires and dropping to 14th on an early-race restart, but a pit-road speeding penalty with less than 70 laps left put him a lap down and in 22nd place. After a caution, Larson got back onto the lead lap and then stayed out to briefly hold the lead.

After the Indy 500, Larson was scheduled to be whisked away to try to make it to Charlotte Motor Speedway in time for the conclusion of the Coca-Cola 600 in the NASCAR Cup Series. But because the Indy 500 was delayed by about four hours, Larson’s hopes of completing the 1,100 miles in the double went by the wayside.

By staying to race at Indy, Larson missed the start of the Coca-Cola 600 and a chance to score points and possibly extend his lead in the Cup Series standings. Justin Allgaier, a regular in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for JR Motorsports, started the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet at Charlotte in Larson’s place.

Larson will need a waiver from NASCAR to be eligible for the 2024 NASCAR Playoffs. According to the NASCAR Rule Book, drivers must start all points races to be eligible for the postseason. The sanctioning body could grant a waiver to that rule for extenuating circumstances.