Engine issue derails Kyle Larson’s first Indy 500 qualifying run

The NASCAR Cup star went out sixth among the 34 drivers, speeding to a quick opening lap of 232.719mph in the No. 17 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet, which is also co-owned by legendary NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick.

Larson managed to keep a strong run together by running 232.318mph on his second lap and then 232.299mph on the third circuit around the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

But his fourth lap came undone on the upshift out of Turn 1 into the short chute before Turn 2 as the engine pitch changed dramatically.

Larson was quick to react and abruptly backed out of the run, and instead of finishing up his lap he aborted the attempt and was left without recording a four-lap average run that counted.

When asked by NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch what happened, Larson replied: “I don’t know” before providing a deeper view of what he encountered in the cockpit.

“There was some alarm that popped up on the dash and it just cut a bunch of power,” said Larson, the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion.

“I haven’t talked to anybody, so I don’t know what happened. But that sucks. I don’t really know how our run was looking, but the car felt pretty balanced.”

Kyle Larson, McLaren-Hendrick Chevrolet Photo by: Geoffrey M. Miller / Motorsport Images

Larson, who is the fifth driver to attempt ‘The Double’ – the Indy 500 and NASCAR’s 600-mile race in Charlotte on the same day of Memorial Day Weekend – described the feeling of his run to that point.

“I felt like off Turn 4 I got a little bit free once coming to the white [flag],” Larson said. “And then, yeah, we didn’t make an off Turn 1.

“I just got to catch up with them and see what the alarm was and what that all was. But yeah, that sucks.”

Brian Campe, technical director for Hendrick Motorsports who is calling strategy for Larson in the Indy 500, said they were “still investigating” the engine issue, but are not worried about going out for another attempt this afternoon.

“We’ve got good speed in our McLaren Indy car and the Chevrolet is producing good power,” Campe said. “Sometimes these things happen and we’ll do the best we can get back out there around 2pm and see what we can do.”

It was later revealed that an electronic problem was to blame for the ‘engine event’ and that there was no need to change the motor ahead of his next run.

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