With just two rounds of qualifying, Kyle Larson ran the fastest time in the second group with a time of 75.732 seconds averaging 94.597 mph. He will lead the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup 38-car field in the Toyota / Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway.
“I think the first round, I just wanted to get a fairly smooth lap in and not make any mistakes to try to get into the Top 12. I felt like I ran a clean lap, but I felt there were areas I could make up some time. A lot in the breaking zones. And I feel like I made up most of my speed in the final round, there. So, it’s cool to get a pole at my own home track here in Sonoma and DC Solar’s home track as well.” Larson said.
Larson also won the pole position last year, but struggled all race long and finished in the 26th position. He shared with FOX Sports earlier today that their focus was on qualifying last year. This year, they shifted focus into race trim and were still able to earn the top spot. Larson has never started outside the top-10 here at the northern California road course.
Martin Truex Jr. was fastest in final practice, and will start tomorrow’s race from the front row with Larson. Truex was one of three drivers who was in the top-10 in both practice sessions yesterday along with Jamie McMurray and Michael McDowell.
“Our 5-hour ENERGY Bass Pro Shops Camry has been really fast. I feel like we have a really good race car, better than we do qualifying – that’s off to a good start for us tomorrow. Excited to race here, I love this place and hopefully we can get it done tomorrow.” Truex said.
McMurray will start in the fourth position, which ironically was his final result from both practice sessions yesterday. He won consecutive pole positions in 2013 and 2014 at Sonoma.
AJ Allmendinger has become NASCAR’s road course ‘ringer’ over the years, with some exciting finishes here and at Watkin’s Glen International. He drove the No. 47 Chevrolet into the fifth starting position.
Some drivers were not pleased with the first qualifying session, however. Earlier in the afternoon, the K&N Pro West Series had their qualifying session. During their second qualifying group, Bill Kann in the No. 18 Chevrolet lost an engine throughout the second half of the esses. While safety crew did run through the turns to clean the track surface, they had to stop the qualifying session two extra times to check the area again. As the Cup Series drivers took the track for their qualifying session shortly after, many drivers did not turn a lap. As the timer ran down, drivers were forced to turn a lap on a crowded track, forcing many drivers who were at the front of the practice sessions to get a poor start, such as Michael McDowell and Clint Bowyer who expressed his frustration on Twitter.
Sit around here all day to get a lap of qualifying in. Track was clearly not ready and forces 40 cars to try and make a lap in the last 5 mins. Not 1 but 2 cars pull out in front of ya. Real nice!
— Clint Bowyer (@ClintBowyer) June 23, 2018
Hendrick Motorsports continues to improve as an organization and places three drivers in the top eight starting positions with Chase Elliott, Jimmie Johnson and William Byron.
Team Penske raced their entire stable into the final round of qualifying with Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano taking the final spots.
Tomorrow’s race for the Toyota / Save Mart 350 will air on FS1. Coverage starts at 3:00 p.m. EST. Tickets are still available on the Sonoma Raceway website.