Kyle Larson earns Sonoma pole over Martin Truex Jr.

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Kyle Larson earns Sonoma pole over Martin Truex Jr.
By: Kenny Bruce
Jun 23, 2018, 7:43 PM

For the second consecutive year, Kyle Larson will start on the pole for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway.

Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing, Chevrolet Camaro DC Solar
Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing, Chevrolet Camaro DC Solar
Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing, Chevrolet Camaro DC Solar
Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing, Toyota Camry 5-hour ENERGY/Bass Pro Shops
Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing, Toyota Camry 5-hour ENERGY/Bass Pro Shops
Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing, Toyota Camry 5-hour ENERGY/Bass Pro Shops
A.J. Allmendinger, JTG Daugherty Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Kroger ClickList

The Chip Ganassi Racing driver captured the Busch Pole Award Saturday for Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race with a qualifying speed of 94.597 mph in his No. 42 Chevrolet.

It was Larson’s second pole of the season (he qualified No. 1 at Dover International Speedway) and the sixth of his Cup career.

Martin Truex Jr. (Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Toyota) grabbed the No. 2 spot with his final-round qualifying effort of 94.484 mph.

Chase Elliott (Hendrick Motorsports), Ganassi teammate Jamie McMurray and AJ Allmendinger (JTG-Daugherty Racing) completed the top five.

“I think the first round, I just wanted to get a fairly smooth lap in and not make any mistakes to try to get into the top 12,” Larson said of his initial run that put him 10th among those who advanced to the final round. 

“I felt like I ran a clean lap but I felt there were some areas I could make up some time … a lot in the braking zones. I felt like I made up most of my speed in the final round there.”

A five-time winner in the Cup Series, Larson’s best finish in four career starts at Sonoma is 12th. He is still looking for his first win of the ’18 season.

“I have a long way to go to get better racing here,” he admitted. “I’m working hard to get better.

“I can always qualify good here for some reason bur racing seems to be a struggle.”

Truex, the defending series champion as well as a winner this year at Auto Club Speedway and Pocono Raceway, just missed collecting what would have been his fifth pole of the year. His

“A little bit off in Turn 2,” Truex said of his final-round run. “Missed my line a little bit and was a little late getting back to the gas there.”

Kevin Harvick, the defending race winner, will line up sixth in the 38-car field.

The Toyota/Save Mart 350 is scheduled to go green Sunday just after 3 p.m. ET.

Round 1

Allmendinger, the Sonoma pole winner in 2015, paced the 25-minute opening round, posting a top lap of 75.828 seconds (94.477 mph) in his No. 47 Chevrolet to advance.

Truex Jr. (Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Toyota) was second, followed by Hendrick Motorsports teammates William Byron and Elliott, Team Penske teammates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski.

Among those failing to advance to the final round were Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin and Clint Bowyer, the series’ most recent winner.

Hamlin (Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) will start 21st in the 38-car lineup.

Questionable track conditions, the result of a blown engine during K&N Pro Series West qualifying moments before Cup qualifying, resulted in Hamlin and several others waiting as late as possible before making their qualifying attempt.

“Nobody wanted to be first out,” Hamlin said. “Definitely disappointed with our effort. … The car is a lot better in race trim. … Just off on speed there.”

Bowyer, the winner at Michigan two weeks ago, will line up 19th; Busch will start 23rd.

Cla#DriverManufacturerTimeGapMph
1 42 united_states Kyle Larson  Chevrolet 1'15.732   94.597
2 78 united_states Martin Truex Jr.  Toyota 1'15.822 0.090 94.484
3 9 united_states Chase Elliott  Chevrolet 1'15.841 0.109 94.461
4 1 united_states Jamie McMurray  Chevrolet 1'16.029 0.297 94.227
5 47 united_states A.J. Allmendinger  Chevrolet 1'16.274 0.542 93.925
6 4 united_states Kevin Harvick  Ford 1'16.330 0.598 93.856
7 48 united_states Jimmie Johnson  Chevrolet 1'16.356 0.624 93.824
8 24 united_states William Byron  Chevrolet 1'16.411 0.679 93.756
9 18 united_states Kyle Busch  Toyota 1'16.474 0.742 93.679
10 2 united_states Brad Keselowski  Ford 1'16.695 0.963 93.409
11 12 united_states Ryan Blaney  Ford 1'16.740 1.008 93.354
12 22 united_states Joey Logano  Ford 1'17.609 1.877 92.309
13 6 united_states Trevor Bayne  Ford 1'16.657 0.925 93.455
14 31 united_states Ryan Newman  Chevrolet 1'16.658 0.926 93.454
15 21 united_states Paul Menard  Ford 1'16.671 0.939 93.438
16 19 mexico Daniel Suarez  Toyota 1'16.725 0.993 93.372
17 88 united_states Alex Bowman  Chevrolet 1'16.812 1.080 93.267
18 17 united_states Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  Ford 1'16.813 1.081 93.265
19 14 united_states Clint Bowyer  Ford 1'16.824 1.092 93.252
20 20 united_states Erik Jones  Toyota 1'16.833 1.101 93.241
21 11 united_states Denny Hamlin  Toyota 1'16.875 1.143 93.190
22 34 united_states Michael McDowell  Ford 1'16.928 1.196 93.126
23 41 united_states Kurt Busch  Ford 1'16.938 1.206 93.114
24 10 united_states Aric Almirola  Ford 1'16.978 1.246 93.066
25 37 united_states Chris Buescher  Chevrolet 1'17.012 1.280 93.024
26 95 united_states Kasey Kahne  Chevrolet 1'17.018 1.286 93.017
27 3 united_states Austin Dillon  Chevrolet 1'17.090 1.358 92.930
28 38 united_states David Ragan  Ford 1'17.457 1.725 92.490
29 23 united_states Gray Gaulding  Toyota 1'17.536 1.804 92.396
30 32 united_states Matt DiBenedetto  Ford 1'17.625 1.893 92.290
31 13 united_states Ty Dillon  Chevrolet 1'17.664 1.932 92.244
32 72 united_states Cole Whitt  Chevrolet 1'17.747 2.015 92.145
33 15 united_states Justin Marks  Chevrolet 1'17.903 2.171 91.961
34 96 united_states Parker Kligerman  Toyota 1'18.276 2.544 91.522
35 43 united_states Darrell Wallace Jr.  Chevrolet 1'18.571 2.839 91.179
36 51 united_states Chris Cook  Ford 1'19.129 3.397 90.536
37 00 united_states Tomy Drissi  Chevrolet 1'19.726 3.994 89.858
38 52 united_states Cody Ware  Chevrolet 1'20.296 4.564 89.220
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About this article

Series NASCAR Cup
Event Sonoma
Location Sonoma Raceway
Drivers Kyle Larson
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing
Author Kenny Bruce
Article type Qualifying report