By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
SONOMA, California — For the second straight year in a row, Elk Grove native Kyle Larson will lead the field to the green flag for Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway.
Larson clocked in a time of 75.732 seconds (94.597 mph), earning him the Busch Pole Award for the sixth time in his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career.
In addition of scoring a pole, he’ll lead the Chevrolet banner as six out of the first eight fastest drivers represent the Camaro ZL1 brand.
“I had a really good second lap there in the final round. I thought I ran a pretty good lap,” said Larson. “I figured I would’ve ran in the 75-second bracket. I just didn’t know how quickly, so when I saw the 75.70 off of my dash, I know that would be a good lap. I didn’t know it was the pole or not, but once I knew I was ahead of the No. 78 (Martin Truex, Jr.), I figured the No. 47 (A.J. Allmendinger) would’ve been the only one to beat me. I’m not sure where he messed up his lap, but he wasn’t able to get the pole. Cool to do it.”
Larson said after the first round of qualifying, where he was 10th fastest, he found a good balance on his No. 42 DC Solar Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, making it easier to attack on his pole run.
“We’ve picked up a lot of time from the first round into the second round. The car had a good balance in the first round, so I don’t know what they adjusted, if anything, but it was good for the second round. I was just able to attack the breaking zones just a little more. Rushed the throttle a little bit quicker on the exits and it paid off. I felt like I ran a fairly smooth lap, and happy to be on the pole.”
Throughout the opening round of qualifying, the speedy dry that surrounded Turns 7-10 due to leakage during the K&N Pro Series West qualifying session this morning, made it difficult for drivers to put on a trailblazing lap.
Among those who struggled was Darrell “Bubba” Wallace, who drove the No. 43 World Wide Technology Chevrolet to its absolute limit, and nearly lost it multiple times. Wallace will start 35th on Sunday.
Larson said he didn’t focus on the issue as much in the final round, but experience some difficulty driving through the speedy dry.
“I was little concerned with all the speedy dry over there. Even if doesn’t effect your grip, it’s still in your head. You can see it, and it effects you,” said Larson. “I wouldn’t say I tip-toed through there, but I was more cautious in the first round through all the speedy dry through the esses and stuff. But once you get through there after the first round, everything’s fine and you kind of forget about it in the second round, and that’s what I did.”
Martin Truex, Jr. will start alongside Larson, as he’ll look to score his second win at Sonoma. Chase Elliott, Jamie McMurray, and the fastest man in round one, A.J. Allmendinger rounded out the top-5.
Defending race winner Kevin Harvick qualified sixth, followed by Jimmie Johnson, William Byron, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney, and Joey Logano, who all made it to the top-12.