Severe weather forces cancellation of Sprint Cup qualifying at Richmond

RICHMOND, VA - APRIL 25:  A severe weather warning is displayed on the scoring tower after the end of qualifying for the NASCAR Nationwide Series ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond International Raceway on April 25, 2014 in Richmond, Virginia.  (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

RICHMOND, VA – APRIL 25: A severe weather warning is displayed on the scoring tower after the end of qualifying for the NASCAR Nationwide Series ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond International Raceway on April 25, 2014 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

Richmond, Va.—NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookie Kyle Larson will make his first start from the pole position in Saturday night’s Toyota Owners 400, after severe weather forced cancellation of Friday’s scheduled qualifying session at Richmond International Raceway.

Larson earned the start from the top position on the grid as the fastest driver in Friday’s opening practice at the .75-mile track, which will host the ninth Sprint Cup race of the season Saturday night.

Though Larson isn’t credited with an official Coors Light pole award because time trials were washed out, he will lead the field to green for the first time in his fledgling Cup career. Larson’s previous best starting spot for a Cup race was eighth at Phoenix in March, in the first knockout qualifying session staged in NASCAR’s foremost series.

Had Larson not convinced his team to start the opening practice in qualifying trim, however, he probably wouldn’t be starting on the front row.

“I wanted to start off in qualifying trim and was able to kind of talk Shine (crew chief Chris Heroy) into doing it,” said Larson, whose lap speed of 126.880 mph topped the speed chart in opening practice. “We came here and tested last year for Goodyear and had a good baseline, so I was pretty confident about going out in qualifying trim…

“We really laid down a fast lap, and when we switched over to race trim, we were good in that, too, so I’m excited about that. It’s going to be a good race (Saturday). It’s nice starting out on the pole. I don’t know whether I’ll count it as my first career pole, but it’s still pretty cool to start on the front row.”

Brad Keselowski will start second, with the field ordered fastest-to-slowest from first practice. Clint Bowyer, a two-time winner at the Virgina short track, will start third, followed by Kasey Kahne, Kevin Harvick and Brian Vickers.

Rain and lightning hit the speedway just after NASCAR Nationwide Series qualifying concluded Friday, with Brian Scott winning the pole for Friday night’s scheduled ToyotaCare 250.

The storm and the threat of continued severe weather cleared the grandstand and temporarily called a halt to activity at the track. With a tornado watch in effect, track announcers encouraged those fans camping and planning to remain on property to secure their belongings.

Notes: Series leader Jeff Gordon starts 25th, with Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 10th and 13th, respectively…. Michael McDowell and Dave Blaney failed to qualify for the 43-car field.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Qualifying – Toyota Owners 400
Richmond International Raceway
Richmond, Virginia
Friday, April 25, 2014

1. (42) Kyle Larson #, Chevrolet, 2014 Owner Points 15th.
2. (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 2014 Owner Points  8th.
3. (15) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, 2014 Owner Points 16th.
4. (5) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 2014 Owner Points 23rd.
5. (4) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 2014 Owner Points 22nd.
6. (55) Brian Vickers, Toyota, 2014 Owner Points 14th.
7. (1) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 2014 Owner Points 20th.
8. (83) Ryan Truex #, Toyota, 2014 Owner Attempts 8-43rd.
9. (27) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 2014 Owner Points 18th.
10. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 2014 Owner Points 5th.
11. (9) Marcos Ambrose, Ford, 2014 Owner Points 17th.
12. (20) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 2014 Owner Points 2nd.
13. (88) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 2014 Owner Points 4th.
14. (47) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 2014 Owner Points 19th.
15. (43) Aric Almirola, Ford, 2014 Owner Points 24th.
16. (99) Carl Edwards, Ford, 2014 Owner Points 3rd.
17. (22) Joey Logano, Ford, 2014 Owner Points 9th.
18. (31) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 2014 Owner Points 10th.
19. (18) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 2014 Owner Points 6th.
20. (14) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 2014 Owner Points 13th.
21. (41) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 2014 Owner Points 26th.
22. (78) Martin Truex Jr., Chevrolet, 2014 Owner Points 28th.
23. (7) Michael Annett #, Chevrolet, 2014 Owner Points 35th.
24. (23) Alex Bowman #, Toyota, 2014 Owner Points 36th.
25. (24) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 2014 Owner Points 1st.
26. (16) Greg Biffle, Ford, 2014 Owner Points 12th.
27. (3) Austin Dillon #, Chevrolet, 2014 Owner Points 11th.
28. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 2014 Owner Points 7th.
29. (17) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 2014 Owner Points 25th.
30. (35) David Reutimann, Ford, 2014 Owner Attempts 8-46th.
31. (51) Justin Allgaier #, Chevrolet, 2014 Owner Points 27th.
32. (32) Travis Kvapil, Ford, 2014 Owner Attempts 8-38th.
33. (38) David Gilliland, Ford, 2014 Owner Points 30th.
34. (13) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 2014 Owner Points 21st.
35. (10) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 2014 Owner Points 29th.
36. (36) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 2014 Owner Points 31st.
37. (34) David Ragan, Ford, 2014 Owner Points 33rd.
38. (33) David Stremme, Chevrolet, 2014 Owner Attempts 8-41st.
39. (98) Josh Wise, Chevrolet, 2014 Owner Attempts 8-37th.
40. (26) Cole Whitt #, Toyota, 2014 Owner Points 34th.
41. (66) Joe Nemechek(i), Toyota, 2014 Owner Attempts 8-39th.
42. (30) JJ Yeley(i), Chevrolet, 2014 Owner Attempts 8-42nd.
43. (40) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 2014 Owner Points 32nd.

2 drivers failed to qualify.

44. (95) Michael McDowell, Ford, 2014 Owner Attempts 6-44th.
45. (77) Dave Blaney, Ford, 2014 Owner Attempts 6-47.

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