Photo: Stephen A. Arce/ASP, Inc.

Larson Snags Pole for Inaugural NASCAR Cup Race at Iowa Speedway

By David Morgan, Associate Editor

NEWTON, Iowa – Kyle Larson will start from pole for Sunday’s sold-out Iowa Corn 350 at Iowa Speedway, turning the fastest lap in a weather-delayed qualifying session on Saturday afternoon.

Rolling out as the last car in the field to make a lap on the partially repaved 0.875-mile oval, Larson posted a lap of 23.084 seconds, 136.458 mph, to knock defending NASCAR Cup Series champion Ryan Blaney off the top of the board.

Larson was one of the first drivers to make laps on the new asphalt laid down in the corners of the track in a tire test roughly a month ago and parlayed that prior experience in to a fast time on Saturday, though it wasn’t without its challenges.

“It was challenging, for sure,” Larson said. “It wasn’t as challenging as I was expecting. You know, I got to watch everybody’s. Everybody looked really loose, on edge, and I just tried to be under the edge, I guess, a little bit.

“My lap felt fairly smooth. A little edgy, but not as bad as I was expecting. It helps going out last. It helps being able to watch everybody. Talking to Cliff before I go out is beneficial too. Happy to get the pole. I was hoping for rain. Didn’t know what we would qualify, so glad that worked out.”

“I wish I would have picked up my second lap a little bit more,” Blaney lamented. “Had a really good first lap and I tried to change some stuff up the second lap and I ran the same speed, maybe a hundredths slower. I kind of missed [Turn] 3 and 4 my second lap.

“Overall, it stinks to get beat for the pole by the last guy to go out, but that’s expected from Larson. Proud of the effort by everybody on this 12 group, Advance Auto Parts Ford Mustang. We struggled a bit yesterday. I didn’t think we were great. They did a good job of getting better overnight, so really proud of that. Appreciate them, Menards, Ford, Discount Tire, Wurth, Wabash, Snap-on, everybody.

“Should be fun tomorrow. I’ve got a lot of family here, so hopefully we can make a good showing.”

Josh Berry will start third, followed by William Byron in fourth and Brad Keselowski in fifth. The remainder of the top-10 starters will be Chase Briscoe, Kyle Busch, Tyler Reddick, Chase Elliott, and Christopher Bell.

Qualifying was delayed from its original start time due to weather in the area that cancelled NASCAR Xfinity Series qualifying, leading to a convoluted one-round qualifying format to determine the overall starting lineup.

Split into two groups, A and B, the top five fastest from each group were sorted in order their fastest lap, while the drivers from 11th on back would be starting either on the inside or outside lane depending on which group they were in.

“Why do we have to make it so complicated,” Busch asked with a laugh. “Oh my God. It’s good for me because I’m P2 in the group.”

Among the drivers still winless in 2024 that will be starting further back in the field are Joey Logano in 11th, Chris Buescher in 15th, Bubba Wallace in 16th, and Ross Chastain in 17th.

Noah Gragson, who was fastest in practice on Friday will roll off from 23rd, with Austin Cindric qualifying in 21st in his backup car after crashing in practice. Martin Truex, Jr. will have his work cut out for himself from 31st in the same weekend he announced his retirement from full-time racing.

The Iowa Corn 350 is scheduled for 7:00 pm ET Sunday on USA Network.

Iowa Corn 350 at Iowa Speedway Starting Lineup

15Kyle Chevrolet23.084136.458
212Ryan BlaneyAdvance Auto Parts Ford23.109136.311
34Josh Berry Ford23.176135.916
424William ByronLiberty University Chevrolet23.231135.595
56Brad KeselowskiKing’s Hawaiian/Casey’s Ford23.275135.338
614Chase BriscoeMahindra USA 30 Years Ford23.676133.046
78Kyle Buschzone/Kwik Trip Chevrolet23.697132.928
845Tyler ReddickMcDonald’s Toyota23.707132.872
99Chase ElliottNAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet23.749132.637
1020Christopher BellRheem Toyota23.884131.887
1122Joey LoganoShell Pennzoil Ford23.281135.303
1211Denny HamlinInterstate Batteries Toyota23.896131.821
1399Daniel SuarezWorldwide Express Chevrolet23.286135.274
1438Todd GillilandRuedebusch Ford23.909131.750
1517Chris BuescherFastenal Ford23.358134.857
1623Bubba WallaceMcDonald’s Toyota23.984131.338
171Ross ChastainBusch Light For The Farmers Chevrolet23.412134.546
1816AJ Allmendinger(i)Action Industries Chevrolet24.035131.059
1951Justin HaleyMotoRad Ford23.475134.185
2077Carson Hocevar #Premier Security Chevrolet24.037131.048
212Austin CindricMenards/Moen Ford23.500134.043
2234Michael McDowellLove’s Travel Stops Ford24.041131.026
2310Noah GragsonBass Pro Shops Winchester Ford23.534133.849
247Corey LaJoieGainbridge/Iowa Hawkeyes Chevrolet24.130130.543
2521Harrison BurtonMenards/MasterForce Tools Ford23.571133.639
2671Zane Smith #Focused Health Chevrolet24.211130.106
2754Ty GibbsMonster Energy Toyota23.599133.480
2815Kaz Grala Ford24.314129.555
2941Ryan PreeceMorton Buildings Ford23.663133.119
3031Daniel HemricCirkul Chevrolet24.332129.459
3119Martin Truex Jr.Reser’s Fine Foods Toyota23.698132.923
3243Erik JonesFamily Dollar Toyota24.522128.456
3348Alex BowmanAlly Chevrolet23.716132.822
3442John Hunter NemechekDollar Tree Toyota24.628127.903
3547Ricky Stenhouse Jr.Kroger/NOS Energy Drink Chevrolet23.988131.316
363Austin DillonGet Bioethanol Chevrolet24.891126.552

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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.