LONG POND, Pa. – The strong rookie season from Kyle Larson continued Friday afternoon at Pocono Raceway as the California native scored his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole.
Larson put his No. 42 Chevrolet SS on the pole for Sunday’s GoBowling.com 400 with a track record lap around the 2.5-mile venue. His 49.063-second lap at 183.438 mph gave him the top spot over Team Penske’s Joey Logano, who was fastest in the first two knockout qualifying sessions.
Larson did start from the pole earlier this season at Richmond (Va.) Int’l Raceway after qualifying was rained out and the startling lineup was set based on practice times.
“I thought we had a good shot at the pole after the second round (of qualifying),” said Larson. “I was nervous. I hit all three corners about as good as I could, so I was really excited about that.”
Larson won the ARCA Racing Series event held at Pocono in June and also plans to run Saturday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at the Tricky Triangle. He said the extra laps will do nothing but help him ahead of Sunday’s race.
“I think any time you can get laps around here at Pocono it helps. This place is so different. Each corner is different. It really helps with your rhythm and things,” Larson said. “You’re moving fast in every car I’ve ran here so far, so that really helps that confidence. I’m starting to like Pennsylvania more. I struggle in PA. I know its just qualifying, but maybe I’m meant to race in Pennsylvania on pavement and not dirt.”
Logano came up just shy of his second pole of the season, getting around the three-turn venue in 49.071 seconds at 183.408 mph. Brad Keselowski qualified third, followed by Kurt Busch and Jeff Gordon.
The remainder of the top 12 qualifiers were Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Jamie McMurray, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Danica Patrick, Austin Dillon and Kasey Kahne.
Logano started qualifying by topping the charts in the first session with his 49.505-second lap at 181.800 mph. Kurt Busch, Kahne, Harvick and Larson followed. Just missing advancing to the second round were Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards.
Logano backed up his time in the first session with a 49.364-second lap at 182.319 mph in the second session. Larson was second ahead of Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch and Gordon. Several big names, including Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart failed to advance to the final round of qualifying.