Kyle Larson takes third straight pole at Sonoma Cup race
Kyle Larson has qualifying down at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, now he’d like to add a trip to Victory Lane as well.
Larson dominated both rounds of qualifying on Saturday, using an average lap speed of 95.712 mph to win the pole for Sunday’s Toyota Save Mart 350 for the third consecutive season.
In five previous starts at the track, however, Larson has never finished better than 12th.
“I guess the trend with my three poles is winning a pole and then struggling in the race. Hopefully, we’ll have something different for tomorrow,” Larson said. “I feel good.
“We did a mock run yesterday in practice and ran a good lap. I kind of over-drove the first session and then the next session I said, ‘I’m going to calm down and not make any mistakes’ and I probably under-drove just a little.
“In the Carousel I think I gave up a little speed but I feel like I made up some time in other areas, too. It’s cool to get a third pole at my home track.”
The pole is Larson’s first of the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season and eighth of his career.
Pole Award Winner Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Credit One Bank
Photo by: Russell LaBounty / NKP / LAT Images
William Byron ended up second (95.669 mph) and Joey Logano was third (95.618 mph). Chase Elliott and Daniel Suarez completed the top-five.
Rounding out the top 12 starters are Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Blaney, Chris Buescher, Jimmie Johnson and Alex Bowman.
Larson, looking for his third consecutive pole at Sonoma, got off to a strong start, leading the way in the first 20-minute session.
Larson’s average lap speed of 95.901 mph topped Suarez (95.781 mph) and Byron (95.687 mph). Logano was fourth and Blaney completed the top-five.
Also advancing to the final round were Buescher, Kyle Busch, Bowman, Hamlin, Elliott, Johnson and Truex.
Among those who failed to advance were Michael McDowell; three Stewart-Haas Racing cars – Clint Bowyer, Aric Almirola and Kevin Harvick; Brad Keselowski; Austin Dillon; Bubba Wallace; and Erik Jones.
“I think we have a good car. I felt like it was really good on the long run yesterday, it’s hard to have the best of both worlds here,” Almirola said. “Sometimes you sacrifice the short-run speed.”
Jones had trouble in Turn 1 on his initial lap as he fell off the pace with a flat left-rear tire. He then had to limp his way on the entire track back to pit road, which did extensive damage to the left-rear wheel well.
“It was flat the whole lap, I just didn’t know it, I was sliding all over the place,” Jones said. Jones will have to move to a backup car which will entail him starting Sunday’s race from the rear of the field.
|8||19||Martin Truex Jr.||Toyota||1'35.399||0.615||95.095|
|17||17||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||Ford||1'35.749||0.965||94.748|
|30||43||Darrell Wallace Jr.||Chevrolet||1'37.020||2.236||93.506|
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