Photo: Stephen A. Arce/ASP, Inc.

Kyle Larson Snags Chicago Street Race Pole

By David Morgan, Associate Editor

CHICAGO – Kyle Larson made everyone stand up and take notice on Saturday in Chicago, scoring the pole for Sunday’s second-annual running of the NASCAR Chicago Street Race.

After posting the fast time in practice, Larson rolled that speed right into qualifying, leading his group to advance to the final round, where he was fast once again, rocketing around the 12-turn, 2.2-mile course in one minute, 27.836 seconds to claim his fifth pole of the season.

Larson, who currently leads the Cup Series points standings, will also be credited with the new track record courtesy of his first round qualifying lap of one minute, 27.518 seconds to eclipse the previous track record held by 2023 polesitter Denny Hamlin.

He will be joined on the front row by Ty Gibbs, who timed in just .010 seconds behind Larson.

“Any road course, I think you feel like the driver means a little bit more,” said Larson. “But I don’t feel like I’m any better of a road racer one year later. I think my team is just, like I just mentioned, it’s their second year here. They studied their notes from last year and made our car a lot better in the areas that I needed help. So I think that’s what makes me really proud, too.

“We have a team that’s capable of doing that. I feel like last year, in qualifying especially, the Gibbs’ cars were – gosh, I was like a second off the pace. I mean I still made the final round, but I was like close to a second off the pace.

“This year, I know we barely beat Ty (Gibbs), but I feel like compared to Martin (Truex Jr.), Denny (Hamlin) and (Tyler) Reddick.. guys like that, I feel like we’re now not quite a bit better, but better than we were last year. I’m mostly, for this weekend, proud of that and our team.”

The remainder of the top-10 fastest drivers will be Michael McDowell, Tyler Reddick, Shane van Gisbergen, Bubba Wallace, Christopher Bell, Alex Bowman, Daniel Suarez, and Brad Keselowski.

“Today’s the day you have to push really hard to get track position,” McDowell said of everyone pushing the limits in qualifying. “And then tomorrow, you’ll still have to have that pace. Still, you’re not going to be pushing every last inch every single lap because you’ll be able to control those cars behind you, so that’s why today was worth the risk to put yourself up front, and there’ll be times tomorrow where it’s worth the risk as well.

“Still, you know the toughest thing about a street race is anytime you race with a lot of concrete barriers is when you’re tucked up behind somebody knowing where those points are. Where the corner apexes are, where the limits are because your visual is so limited when you’re behind somebody. That’s when you can make the big mistakes. You turn in a little early and you’re in the fence.

“So yeah, I enjoy the challenge of it because you have to be so laser-focused and dialed in but tomorrow’s race is going to be a dogfight.”

Defending race winner Shane van Gisbergen noted that it was an unfortunate timing miscue that led to him only being able to qualify fifth fastest, but remained confident that he’ll be in the mix when the chips are on the table.

“I think it’s pretty good,” van Gisbergen said of his car for Sunday. “Better than me. I didn’t do a good enough job. I was too conservative in the second part of qualifying and then we misjudged the timing. We went for a push lap, we were gonna do a cool off and then a push again and we just ran out of time.

“I could have got more out of it myself, so the potential is there, but these races are ridiculous. Always something happens. We gotta just try and stay up front, move front and hopefully we’ll be there at the end.”

Keselowski was one of several drivers to find trouble during qualifying, spinning his No. 6 Ford around in Turn 11 and backing into the concrete retaining wall to damage his machine to make for a long night of repairs.

Others to have issues in qualifying were Corey Lajoie, Josh Berry, Chris Buescher, and Harrison Burton.

Among those drivers, Buescher came away with the best result in 16th, with Lajoie in 20th, Burton in 31st, and Berry in 36th.

2024 NASCAR Chicago Street Race Starting Lineup

15Kyle LarsonValvoline Chevrolet87.83690.168
254Ty GibbsMonster Energy Toyota87.84690.158
334Michael McDowellChicago White Sox Ford87.86290.141
445Tyler ReddickJordan Brand Toyota88.07589.923
516Shane Van Gisbergen(i)Wendy’s Saucy Nuggs Chevrolet88.18389.813
623Bubba WallaceMcDonald’s Toyota88.32089.674
720Christopher BellCRAFTSMAN Racing For A Miracle Toyota88.36689.627
848Alex BowmanAlly Chevrolet88.75989.230
999Daniel SuarezJockey x Folds of Honor Chevrolet88.87489.115
106Brad KeselowskiElk Grove Village Ford104.87775.517
1111Denny HamlinSport Clips Haircuts Toyota88.55089.441
1242John Hunter NemechekDollar Tree Toyota88.36589.628
1377Carson Hocevar #Zeigler Auto Group Chevrolet88.60089.391
141Ross ChastainBusch Light Peach Chevrolet88.40289.591
153Austin DillonGet Bioethanol Chevrolet88.95589.034
1617Chris BuescherFastenal Ford88.47889.514
1712Ryan BlaneyMenards/Dutch Boy Ford89.01088.979
189Chase ElliottNAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet88.48189.511
198Kyle Buschzone Chevrolet89.07188.918
207Corey LaJoieCelsius Chevrolet88.53189.460
212Austin CindricDiscount Tire Ford89.07388.916
2214Chase BriscoeMahindra Compact Tractors Ford88.58089.411
2351Justin HaleyPinnacle Home Improvement Ford89.19788.792
2419Martin Truex Jr.Bass Pro Shops Toyota88.62989.361
2543Erik JonesAdventHealth Toyota89.22888.761
2638Todd Gillilandgener8tor Ford88.81589.174
2724William ByronRelay Payments Chevrolet89.23088.759
2810Noah GragsonBass Pro Shops Winchester Ford88.92089.069
2941Ryan Ford89.26488.726
3071Zane Smith #Focused Health Chevrolet88.96389.026
3121Harrison BurtonMotorcraft/Quick Lane Ford89.38788.603
3222Joey LoganoShell Pennzoil Ford89.15988.830
3347Ricky Stenhouse Jr.Mariano’s/Colgate Optic White Chevrolet89.59388.400
3433Austin Hill(i)United Rentals Chevrolet89.16788.822
3531Daniel HemricCirkul Chevrolet89.60888.385
364Josh Berry Ford89.38488.606
3713AJ Allmendinger(i)Benesch Chevrolet90.23687.770
3860Joey Ford89.49688.496
3966Josh Bilicki(i)Purekick Hydration Ford0.0000.000
4015Kaz Grala n’ Bone Ford89.51488.478

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David Morgan is the Associate Editor for Motorsports Tribune. A 2008 graduate from the University of Mississippi, David has followed NASCAR since the early 90’s and became hooked at an early age after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. He has traveled across the country since 2012 to cover some of the most prestigious events both IndyCar and NASCAR have to offer, with an aim to only expand on that in the near future.