Holly Cain | NASCAR Wire Service
Defending race winner Kyle Larson will start Sunday’s Toyota / Save Mart 350 (4 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) from the same position he finished the race last summer – leading the field.
Larson earned his fourth career NASCAR Cup Series pole position at the 1.99-mile Northern California road course on Saturday afternoon with a blistering lap of 91.935 mph in the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. He was fastest in practice and both rounds of qualifying to definitively earn “favorite” status for tomorrow’s race.
And even after qualifying, Larson said, he hadn’t even shown all the speed his car was capable of – rough news for the field.
“It was good, and I was a bit surprised, because I felt like I gave up a lot of time in Turns 4 and 7, so had I had those two corners back, I felt like I could have went quite a bit faster,” said the Elk Grove, California native, who has now won four pole positions at his “home track.”
“Thanks to everyone on our team. Excited about it.”
Joining Larson on the front row is NASCAR’s reigning road course master and Larson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Chase Elliott, who among active drivers has a series-best seven road course wins but is still looking for his first victory at Sonoma Raceway.
RFK Racing driver Chris Buescher and Front Row Motorsport’s driver Michael McDowell turned in an inspired qualifying effort and will comprise the second row on the grid. It’s the best start of the season for the 2021 Daytona 500 winner McDowell, who is an accomplished road racer.
Richard Childress Racing driver Tyler Reddick and Stewart-Haas Racing’s Cole Custer will start from the third row, followed by Trackhouse Racing teammates Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez. Team Penske’s Joey Logano and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin – driving the lone Toyota in the final round of qualifying – will round out the top-10.
Larson is the only driver among the top-10 with a previous win at the track.
Three-time Sonoma winner Martin Truex Jr., the winningest active driver at the track, will roll off 28th in the No 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. His former championship-winning crew chief, Cole Pearn is working as an engineer this week for the No. 19 team.
His teammate, the only other active multi-time winner at Sonoma, two-time winner Kyle Busch just missed advancing to the final round of qualifying. He will start the No. 18 JGR Toyota in 11th place, right alongside his older brother Kurt Bush in the No. 45 23XI Racing Toyota. Kurt is a former winner at Sonoma as well.
NASCAR’s road course ace A.J. Allmendinger will start 16th in the No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet. Renowned sports car racer Joey Hand qualified the No. 15 Rick Ware Racing Ford in 17th in his second NASCAR Cup Series start of the season. Todd Gilliland was the fastest rookie and will start the No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford, 24th.
Categories: NASCAR Cup Series, Starting Line-Up
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