Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports Face Major Setback Ahead of NASCAR Cup Bristol Dirt Race

Published 03/27/2021, 8:00 AM EDT
KANSAS CITY, KANSAS – OCTOBER 18: Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Credit One Bank Chevrolet, climbs into his car during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)


One of the top favorites for the NASCAR Cup Series race on Bristol Dirt, Kyle Larson, faces a major hurdle in his quest for a NASCAR win on dirt. Due to engine change, Larson will now start at the rear of the field in Sunday’s main event. Not just that, he will also start at the rear of the qualifying/heat race, scheduled for Saturday.

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In the second and final practice session, the star driver faced major issues with his engine. As he was nearing the final stages of the practice session, Larson felt an increase in the temperature of his No. 5 car’s engine. He immediately pulled into the pits, as his team rushed to find the problem.

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After reviewing the situation, Larson’s Hendrick Motorsports crew decided that they needed to change the engine in the car. As a result, Larson will now start at the rear in an already challenging race.

Kyle Larson was dominant before engine issues troubled him

Larson posted best results and ranked first in average speed over the first 30 laps in the second practice session before the engine issues arose. Meanwhile, Ryan Blaney posted the fastest lap in final practice.

In the first practice session, Larson was fifth fastest as his Hendrick teammate Alex Bowman topped the charts.

Larson did not know what caused the sudden rise in engine temperatures, as he talked about it on pit road right after the incident.

“I don’t know what happened, but I looked at my dash and saw that my engine was running really hot. So I pulled in…I know there’s some oil coming out of it,” he said.

Larson looks back on his performance in practice on Bristol dirt

Larson was happy with how his car ran just before he was forced to stop. “I was able to run a few laps on the bottom early and then tried to run the top, to just learn up there,” he said further.

Larson was supposed to start in second place in the first Cup Series heat race on Saturday, just behind Quin Houff. He will now start right at the back.

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Mar 7, 2021; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Larson (5) crosses the finish line to win the Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Hendrick Motorsports driver will also run the Truck race on Saturday to prepare for the Cup race. In the two Truck Series practice sessions, Larson finished in 12th and 15th place, respectively.

Larson will pull double duty this weekend and it will be interesting to see if he can use his learnings from the Truck race for Sunday’s Cup race.

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Aayush Majumdar

1006 articles

Aayush Majumdar is a NASCAR content strategist, a Tennis Writer, and a sports analyst at EssentiallySports. He is well-tenured as a tennis and NASCAR writer, with over 900 articles across both sports. After pursuing a Post Graduate program in Sports Management, Aayush explored various roles in Sports Media, including a Sports Reporting role at a leading English daily.

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