Kyle Larson’s experience might be limited at Sonoma Raceway, but he’s perfected qualifying.
Larson snagged his second consecutive pole at Sonoma with a lap of 94.597 mph Saturday afternoon. Having qualified no worse than fifth in his five Sonoma starts, Larson now has an impressive 2.8 average start at the road course.
The pole is also the sixth of his career and second of the season. Larson had been 10th fastest in the first round of qualifying.
“Well, I think the first round I just wanted to get a fairly smooth lap in, not make any mistakes to try and get into the top 12,” Larson said. “Felt like I ran a clean lap but I knew there was areas I could make up time, a lot in the braking zones and I felt like that’s kind of where I made up most of my speed the final round there.
“So cool to get a pole, my home track here at Sonoma, DC Solar’s home track as well. Qualifying here is one of my favorite things of the year, so glad we could pick up a lot of time to get the pole.”
Chip Ganassi Racing has won the pole at Sonoma in four of the last six races.
Completing the top five were Chase Elliott (94.461 mph), Jamie McMurray (94.227 mph) and AJ Allmendinger (93.925 mph).
The rest of the top 10 were Kevin Harvick (93.856 mph), Jimmie Johnson (93.824 mph), William Byron (93.756 mph), Kyle Busch (93.679 mph) and Brad Keselowski (93.409 mph).
Harvick is the defending race winner. With an eighth-place effort, Hendrick Motorsports rookie William Byron earned a career-best qualifying effort.
The first round of qualifying started with hesitation on the part of drivers. After an incident in NASCAR K&N Pro Series West qualifying resulted in speedy dry being applied to the track, Cup Series drivers did not want to be among the first on track. Through the 15 minutes of the round, only three drivers had locked in a lap.
As the clock wound down inside the final six minutes, the action picked up. Not every driver was able to get a clean lap, and it left some big names missing the cut.
Clint Bowyer with start 19th; Denny Hamlin 21st; Kurt Busch 23rd; Aric Almirola 24th; and Darrell Wallace Jr. 35th.
Bowyer wasn’t pleased with the sequence of events.
NEXT: The Toyota/Save Mart 350 at 3 p.m. ET Sunday.