Kyle Larson earns major Indy 500 laurel despite a disappointing end to his IndyCar debut

The 108th Running of the Indianapolis 500
Kyle Larson in The 108th Running of the Indianapolis 500 (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

Kyle Larson earned a major Indy 500 laurel despite the anticlimactic end to his race. The Hendrick Motorsports ace won the Indy 500 Rookie of the Year honor in the 108th running of the event.

Larson attempted the 'Double' during the Memorial Day weekend, making his IndyCar debut in the prestigious race, and was later scheduled to participate in the Coca-Cola 600. Inclement weather conditions at both Indy and Charlotte thwarted his attempt, as he couldn't run the NASCAR crown jewel event.

Despite the disappointing end to the weekend, Kyle Larson had a great run in the Indy 500. After starting P5, he was on course for an impressive result until a pit road speeding penalty relegated him one lap down to the leaders. He fought back, led laps in the final stages of the race, and finished P18.

Larson, who drove the #17 Arrow McLaren Chevy was announced as the Indy 500 Rookie of the Year for his overall performance in all the sessions, and his off-track impact.

Although Kyle Larson won the Rookie of the Year honor, he was not the top-performing rookie in the race. Ed Carpenter Racing driver Christian Rasmussen finished 12th ahead of Larson.

The Indy 500 Rookie of the Year award is presented to a rookie driver based on his on-track performance in the practice, qualifying, and race. The criteria for the award also include media and fan interaction, sportsmanship, and the positive influence on the race.

Larson was honored for his impressive pace in the build-up to the race in the practice, the qualifying sessions, and his impact on the sport.


Kyle Larson relishes the build-up to his maiden Indy 500 attempt

The 2021 NASCAR Cup champion had an impressive run in the practice and the qualifying sessions, weeks before the Indy 500. He often shot to the top of the timing sheets and eventually qualified an impressive fifth for the marquee event.

After accepting the Rookie of the Year honor, Kyle Larson said that he cherished the support from the fans and had a memorable experience in 'the Month of May'.

"The experience over these last couple of weeks is unlike anything I ever got to experience before. The fan support was incredible to me. I felt like a fan favorite from the start. Having Rick Hendrick here was amazing. I just wish the whole plan would have gone better." he said via NBC Sports.

Although Larson relished the build-up to the race, he conceded that race day was a different experience. He said the guilt of choosing the Indy 500 over the Coca-Cola 600 weighed on his mind throughout the race, and he couldn't enjoy any part of IndyCar debut.

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