Despite a botched entry into the final turn, Kyle Larson won the pole for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 after posting the fastest time in the final round of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying at Sonoma Raceway.
His No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet carried a tad too much speed and about lost the car from behind going into Turn 11, but got an excellent drive off to stay in the green and post a time of 1:15.177 and a speed of 95.295 mph.
Larson said afterward that his entire lap “actually felt pretty bad.”
“I messed up into (Turn) 1 and into (Turn) 2 and was out a little bit too far,” he said. “Yeah, I felt like I gave up enough there that I wouldn’t have a shot at the pole. I thought maybe I’d maintain and run about the same lap time as the previous run. So, I was surprised and I was happy about that. This is cool to get a pole on a road course at my home state. This is my closest track to Sacramento or Elk Grove where I grew up. I have lots of friends and family here. We’re going to celebrate with the team. The Target Chevy was good. And then we’re going to head out to Calistoga and go watch some Sprint Car racing. So, I’m excited about that.”
It’s his fourth pole in 127 career starts, third of the season and his second consecutive pole.
Teammate Jamie McMurray will start his No. 1 Ganassi Chevrolet second after posting a time of 1:15.249 and a speed of 95.204 mph.
“I have been on the pole here three times and haven’t been able to win the race. So, I’m not as worried with qualifying as excited as I am for how good our car was in race trim,” McMurray said. “We did two or three long runs and the car had good initial speed and I didn’t think it fell off as much as some of the other cars did. The No. 78 looked really fast, but I thought overall our car was one of the best in race trim. So, the fact that we have a good starting spot at the beginning is going to be big. The stages are going to be interesting to see how that affects the race or if it does. But, yeah, got a good car and just ready for tomorrow.”
Martin Truex Jr. will start his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota third after posting a time of 1:15.453 and a speed of 94.947 mph. Kyle Busch will start his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota fourth after posting a time of 1:15.459 and a speed of 94.939 mph. AJ Allmendinger will round out the top-five starters in his No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet after posting a time of 1:15.553 and a speed of 94.821 mph.
Danica Patrick, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Chris Buescher and Dale Earnhardt Jr. round out the top-10.
Daniel Suarez and Kevin Harvick round out the 12 drivers that made the final round of qualifying.
No drivers were sent home for failing to make the race.