Kyle Larson edges Harvick and Truex for Dover pole

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Kyle Larson edges Harvick and Truex for Dover pole
Jim Utter
By: Jim Utter
May 4, 2018, 8:17 PM

Kyle Larson was not the Chevrolet most were watching at Dover but perhaps they should have.

Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing, Chevrolet Camaro DC Solar
Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Credit One Bank
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Fusion Jimmy John's
Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet Camaro
Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing, Toyota Camry 5-hour ENERGY/Bass Pro Shops

Larson was the first out in the last two rounds of knockout qualifying and blistered the field in both, using an average lap speed of 158.103 mph to win the pole for Sunday’s AAA 400 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway.

Kevin Harvick came closest to catching Larson, with an average speed of 157.494 mph in the final session. Martin Truex Jr. was third (157.432 mph). Kyle Busch was fourth and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. completed the top-five.

The pole is the first of the season for Larson, fifth of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career and first at Dover.

“I felt like I nailed that last lap pretty good, all the way from coming to the green to getting through (Turns) 1 and 2 really good,” Larson said. “(Turns) 3 and 4, I may have left a little out there – I got in there pretty hot and up the track.

“I planned to move up the race track each round. The first round caught me off guard a little bit. I was really loose getting in but then we made some adjustments throughout the next two rounds. The second round we were probably a little too tight and we kind of found a happy medium there in the final round.

“I’ve always qualified well here but had yet to get a pole. I’ve always raced well here but we have yet to get a win. Maybe we’ll get both this weekend.”

The remainder of the Top 12 starters: Chase Elliott, Daniel Suarez, Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin, Erik Jones and Clint Bowyer.

Seven-time series champion and 11-time winner at Dover, Jimmie Johnson, will line up 19th.

Round 2

Larson was the first to go out in the second round and his average lap speed of 157.432 mph held up the rest of the session, and was the fastest of the day to this point.

Elliott was second (157.267 mph) and Suarez ended up third (157.068 mph). Stenhouse was fourth and Harvick completed the top-five.

Also advancing to the final round were Truex, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Bowyer, Hamlin, Keselowski and Jones.

Aric Almirola just missed the cutoff and ended up 13th. Among the others who failed to advance were Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman, Joey Logano, Johnson and William Byron.

“We were just tight. We were loose on entry in the first round and tight on exit so we tried to do something to fix it and ended up tight overall,” Blaney said. “I probably didn’t do the best job, either.”

Round 1

Kyle Busch led the way in the first 15-minute session of qualifying as most drivers waited several minutes before attempting to make a run, with temperatures soaring near 90 degrees.

Busch’s top average lap speed was 157.116 mph. He just ended Keselowski (156.883 mph), who ended up second, and Truex (156.678 mph) who was third.

Hamlin ended fourth and Blaney completed the top-five.

Among those who failed to advance to Round 2 were Kasey Kahne (who actually tied for 24th, the final transfer spot), Darrell Wallace Jr., Austin Dillon, Ty Dillon and A.J. Allmendinger.

“I love coming here and putting on a good show and having a good run and it’s a bummer where we ended up,” Wallace said. “We knew the track was going to slow down. Just frustrated with how much speed we actually had and it wasn’t good enough.”

Kahne and Ryan Newman tied on their initial list and tied again on the second laps. Since Newman is higher in points, he transferred to Round 2.

“It’s his lucky day,” Kahne said. “It’s for 24th, we’re still not talking about a very good position. It was really tight. We have some work to do. I look forward to practice tomorrow and trying to get better for the race.”

Corey LaJoie was the only driver not to participate in the first round of qualifying as his team was still preparing his car after it blew an engine in the final minutes of Friday’s practice session.

Cla#DriverManufacturerTimeGapMph
1 42 united_states Kyle Larson  Chevrolet 22.770   158.103
2 4 united_states Kevin Harvick  Ford 22.858 0.088 157.494
3 78 united_states Martin Truex Jr.  Toyota 22.867 0.097 157.432
4 18 united_states Kyle Busch  Toyota 22.897 0.127 157.226
5 17 united_states Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  Ford 22.929 0.159 157.006
6 9 united_states Chase Elliott  Chevrolet 22.969 0.199 156.733
7 19 mexico Daniel Suarez  Toyota 22.997 0.227 156.542
8 2 united_states Brad Keselowski  Ford 23.011 0.241 156.447
9 41 united_states Kurt Busch  Ford 23.035 0.265 156.284
10 11 united_states Denny Hamlin  Toyota 23.078 0.308 155.993
11 20 united_states Erik Jones  Toyota 23.092 0.322 155.898
12 14 united_states Clint Bowyer  Ford 23.121 0.351 155.703
13 10 united_states Aric Almirola  Ford 23.096 0.326 155.871
14 12 united_states Ryan Blaney  Ford 23.115 0.345 155.743
15 88 united_states Alex Bowman  Chevrolet 23.128 0.358 155.655
16 37 united_states Chris Buescher  Chevrolet 23.149 0.379 155.514
17 24 united_states William Byron  Chevrolet 23.179 0.409 155.313
18 22 united_states Joey Logano  Ford 23.181 0.411 155.300
19 48 united_states Jimmie Johnson  Chevrolet 23.193 0.423 155.219
20 21 united_states Paul Menard  Ford 23.201 0.431 155.166
21 31 united_states Ryan Newman  Chevrolet 23.222 0.452 155.025
22 6 united_states Trevor Bayne  Ford 23.274 0.504 154.679
23 1 united_states Jamie McMurray  Chevrolet 23.301 0.531 154.500
24 32 united_states Matt DiBenedetto  Ford 23.495 0.725 153.224
25 95 united_states Kasey Kahne  Chevrolet 23.306 0.536 154.467
26 43 united_states Darrell Wallace Jr.  Chevrolet 23.345 0.575 154.209
27 3 united_states Austin Dillon  Chevrolet 23.360 0.590 154.110
28 47 united_states A.J. Allmendinger  Chevrolet 23.375 0.605 154.011
29 34 united_states Michael McDowell  Ford 23.384 0.614 153.951
30 13 united_states Ty Dillon  Chevrolet 23.459 0.689 153.459
31 15 united_states Ross Chastain  Chevrolet 23.502 0.732 153.178
32 38 united_states David Ragan  Ford 23.593 0.823 152.588
33 00 united_states Landon Cassill  Chevrolet 23.649 0.879 152.226
34 55 united_states Reed Sorenson  Chevrolet 24.026 1.256 149.838
35 23 united_states Gray Gaulding  Toyota 24.048 1.278 149.701
36 99 united_states Derrike Cope  Chevrolet 24.884 2.114 144.671
37 51 united_states Cody Ware  Ford 25.442 2.672 141.498
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About this article

Series NASCAR Cup
Event Dover
Location Dover International Speedway
Drivers Kyle Larson
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing
Author Jim Utter
Article type Qualifying report