By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
For the second week in a row, Kyle Larson will start last in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race. Despite having the fastest time in qualifying for the Overton’s 301, Larson’s No. 42 Target Chevrolet SS failed post-qualifying technical inspection due to an illegal rear deck fin. As a result, NASCAR officials disallowed his 28.568 second lap at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
The penalty hands the pole position to Martin Truex, Jr., who coincidentally gained the points lead after Larson’s second place finish at Kentucky Speedway was ruled encumbered, and was docked 35 Championship Points. Larson’s crew chief, Chad Johnston was handed a three-race suspension. Interim crew chief, Tony Lunders, was in charge Friday.
Before the penalty was announced, Larson was looking forward to starting from the pole,
“We were really good in race trim, I thought, and then we went into qualifying trim which was even better. I was able in practice to run about two and half tenths faster than most people and then the No. 78 (Martin Truex, Jr.) went faster at the end of practice. Still, I think like over a tenth slower than I was.”
“Pretty much the same thing in qualifying, I was able to be a lot faster than everybody. They kind of closed the gap each round and then the final round, I was really nervous about the No. 78 because he had only run one lap each of the first two rounds. So, I figured he would be really good in the third round. Didn’t run the best first lap that I wanted to, but was able to recover and run a good second lap in the final round and have enough to hold him off. Cool to get the pole and hopefully have a good race on Sunday.”
Last week at Kentucky Speedway, Larson’s Chip Ganassi Racing team was unable to get his car in compliance in time to attempt a lap in qualifying. As a result, Larson started 40th. Larson’s team also had trouble in pre-qualifying technical inspection at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway.
At Kentucky Speedway, Larson passed 90 cars, and now, he will have to try to find the same magic at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday.