Heralded young gun Kyle Larson acquitted himself well in his first-ever Sprint Cup race last night at Charlotte Motor Speedway before an engine failure knocked him out late and relegated him to a 37th-place result.
Larson, who will take over the No. 42 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet full-time next season, started 21st in the No. 51 Target Chevy but was able to move up and settle into the Top 15 in the race’s first half. However, Larson’s motor dropped a cylinder with about 100 laps to go and forced the dirt-track phenom to try and limp the car home before it finally let go on Lap 247.
Nonetheless, it was still a good debut in Larson’s eyes. Learning was the top priority for the 21-year-old and it appears that he did just that.
“It’s a little similar to the Nationwide [Series] car, but the track changed a lot more,” Larson told David Scott of The Charlotte Observer. “It moved around a lot more. Some runs were loose and free, some were tight. I learned a lot about driving in the dirty air.”
Larson wasn’t the only one making his Cup debut last night. Richard Childress Racing Nationwide driver Brian Scott turned in a 27th-place result, four laps off the pace of winner Brad Keselowski. Also debuting was Blake Koch, whose night was cut short on Lap 216 due to a vibration on his car; he finished 38th.