Kyle Larson and the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports team continue to be a step ahead of the competition.
On Saturday, it was in qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series championship race at Phoenix Raceway with a blistering lap to earn the pole. Larson, the favorite to win his first NASCAR championship, clocked in at 137.847 mph (26.116 seconds).
“It was nice to go out second-to-last there and have a benchmark to shoot for,” said Larson. “Chase [Elliott] got his right sides in the resin on his second lap, I think, and it didn’t look bad, so I thought I’d try it, and there were a few others that did too, so I felt like it’d eventually get a little cleaner for me. I was able to carry a lot of speed through (Turns) 1 and 2; I’m sure he got through (Turns) 3 and 4 a little bit better, but either way, really cool to get a pole, and it helps pit stall selection, so that’s nice.”
It is the 10th pole of Larson’s career and second of the season. It is the first time Larson has started from the pole at Phoenix.
Chase Elliott will start his quest for a second consecutive championship from second place after a run at 136.939 mph.
William Byron (136.846 mph) starts third, Ryan Blaney (136.804 mph) starts fourth, and Kurt Busch (136.742 mph) starts fifth.
Denny Hamlin will start in the sixth position after running 136.565 mph. Cole Custer starts seventh (136.199 mph), Christopher Bell starts eighth (136.193 mph), Kevin Harvick starts ninth (136.188 mph), and Joey Logano starts 10th (136.178 mph).
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) November 6, 2021
Brad Keselowski (136.008 mph) starts 11th in his final Cup Series race with Team Penske.
The lowest qualifying playoff driver was Martin Truex Jr. in 12th. Truex’s best lap was 135.88 mph.
Three of the four championship contenders will be without their car chiefs for Sunday’s race. The cars of Larson, Hamlin, and Truex failed inspection twice and were penalized with the loss of a crew member. Jesse Saunders (Larson), Brandon Griffeth (Hamlin), and Blake Harris (Truex) were ejected by NASCAR.
Ryan Newman starts 19th in what he acknowledged could be, but hopes is not his final Cup Series race. Newman doesn’t know what he’ll be doing next season.
UP NEXT: Cup Series championship race at 1 p.m. local time (3 p.m. ET).