RICHMOND, Va. – Kyle Larson got exactly what he wanted Friday afternoon.
The 21-year-old NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookie earned the pole position for Saturday’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Int’l Raceway, after rain cancelled qualifying and set the field by the speeds from the first practice session.
Larson ranks 15th in Sprint Cup points with two top-five and four top-10 finishes in eight races. He posted a lap of 21.280 seconds around the three-quarter mile oval, which was more than one tenth of a second faster than second-place Brad Keselowski. Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne and Kevin Harvick round out the top five for Saturday’s race.
Brian Vickers, Jamie McMurray, Ryan Truex – another rookie whose best career start was 34th – Paul Menard and Jimmie Johnson completed the top 10 in the practice session.
Sprint Cup points leader Jeff Gordon will start 25th. Gordon was the only Hendrick Motorsports driver to not post a top-15 time in the practice session. Gordon’s teammate, three-time Richmond winner Dale Earnhardt Jr., starts 13th.
Gordon isn’t the only notable driver who has some ground to make up on Saturday night. Kurt Busch (21st), Greg Biffle (26th), Austin Dillon (27th), Virginia native Denny Hamlin (28th) and Danica Patrick (35th) will also start toward the rear.
Michael McDowell and Dave Blaney did not qualify.
Larson’s pole, which won’t go down as an official pole – thus qualifying Larson for the 2015 Sprint Unlimited – made up for his lackluster Nationwide Series qualifying result.
Brian Scott won the pole for Friday night’s ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond, followed by Dylan Kwasniewski, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott and Trevor Bayne in the top five. Larson qualified 14th for the Nationwide race.