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McLaren powers through multiple issues during Indy 500 qualifying

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Kyle Larson was the first Arrow McLaren driver to take to the track for the opening day of Indy 500 qualifying, and for the first two laps, things were going well. The California native’s first lap was ran at a speed of 232.719 miles per hour, with a small amount of speed lost between that and his second lap at 232.318. Then, while entering Turn 2 during the third lap of his initial run, the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion slowed down, pulling back into the pits and unexpectedly ending his qualifying attempt two laps early.

The explanation? An unknown issue that Larson said slowed the car down automatically.

There was some alarm that popped up on the dash and it cut a bunch of power.

2011 Indy 500 runner-up and IndyCar veteran JR Hildebrand offered an explanation to the issue:

But that was only the start of the technical issues for McLaren. Callum Ilott was the next driver up for the team, and set a time of 231.995 mph. After post-qualing technical inspection, IndyCar officials found a nonconforming left rear wheel offset. Here’s how team principal Gavin Ward described the issue:

On the wheel you have a tolerance for what’s called the offset, which is basically where the wheel locates relative to the hub. And what happens on these wheels, they wear with mileage. And what you do when the wheel wears out is you come back and put a spacer in to get them back into tolerance. And it looks like we just missed based on the tolerance.

That issue caused the teams two remaining cars, those of Pato O’Ward and Alexander Rossi to be pulled from the qualifying order and back into the garage. Both cars were cleared of Ilott’s issue, and eventually sent out for early afternoon runs.

Rossi impressed with an average speed of 232.962 mph on his qualifying run, which placed fourth behind all three Team Penske cars. However, on O’Ward’s attempt, the Mexican driver suffered the same issue as Larson, sending him to 32nd of 33 drivers after his initial run.

Larson’s second attempt was pain-free, getting himself into the Fast 12 with a time of 232.563. O’Ward’s was an improvement as well, putting him in 19th. Ilott was the slowest of the four, posting an average of 231.728, a slight falter from his disqualified attempt.

However, with just over an hour left, all four McLaren cars lined up for one final attempt to get in the Fast 12 for Sunday. Each entry went faster than its previous time besides Larson, who abandoned a seemingly fast run after one lap. Rossi stayed put in 4th, whereas O’Ward put himself into the Fast 12 with a speed of 232.434 mph. Ilott put down his fastest four laps of the day at 232.230, which placed him just outside of the top 12 in 15th.

Kyle is one of the best drivers I’ve ever worked with, for sure.“, said Ward. “I can’t believe how well he’s done. I’m over the moon with him and the team there with Hendrick Motorsports over the past week over how things have gone so far.”

With that, McLaren takes advantage of the significant power of their Chevrolet engines, and locks three of their four drivers into Sunday’s Fast 12. Spots 1-12 and 30-33 for next weekend’s Indy 500 will be decided at 3:00 on NBC.


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Born and raised in the suburbs of Indianapolis, Gabe joined the TCF team in 2023 to cover the IndyCar Series. He currently studies Broadcast and Digital Journalism at Syracuse University. You can follow him on Twitter @gabe_perrin.
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