Kyle Larson hopes to convert pole run into Sunday win at Sonoma

SONOMA, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 22: Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Credit One Bank Chevrolet, qualifies for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 22, 2019 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Winning poles at Sonoma Raceway is nothing new for Kyle Larson, who proved that definitively on Saturday, powering his No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet to his third straight top starting spot at the 2.52-mile road course, which features the addition of the carousel this year.

What has been far less predictable is Larson’s finishing position in the Toyota/Save Mart 350, a statistic Larson hopes to rectify on Sunday (3 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Larson has finished 26th and 14th in his last two outings at Sonoma and has never run better than 12th in five Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at the track.

“I guess the trend with my three poles is winning a pole and then struggling in the race,” said the 26-year-old from Elk Grove, Calif., who claimed his first Busch Pole Award of the season and the eighth of his career and tied Ricky Rudd for most consecutive poles at the track. “Hopefully, we’ll have something different for tomorrow. I feel good.”

“We did a mock (qualifying) run yesterday in practice and ran a good lap. I kind of over-drove the first session and then the next session I said, ‘I’m going to calm down and not make any mistakes, and I probably under-drove just a little. In the carousel, I think I gave up a little speed, but I feel like I made up some time in other areas, too. It’s cool to get a third pole in a row here at my home track.”

Larson toured the 12-turn circuit in 94.784 seconds (95.712 mph), edging fellow Chevrolet driver William Byron (95.669 mph) by .043 seconds. Joey Logano qualified third at 95.618 mph in his No. 22 Team Penske Ford.

“I feel like my lap was pretty good,” said Logano, who was .094 seconds off the pole speed. “I was just a little loose. I feel like I got through it mainly pretty decent. I got a little loose off of (Turn) 10. If I could find one spot, I got too loose off 10 trying to throttle up too aggressively and stuck half my left sides up in the dirt and got loose and knocked a few mile an hour off on the exit, compared to what I would have been.

“Maybe that’s a tenth (of a second), maybe a half a tenth. I don’t know. I have to go back and look. All I needed was nine-hundredths, so that’s probably the spot I’m looking at.”

Chase Elliott qualified fourth ahead of Daniel Suarez. Sixth-place Denny Hamlin had the fastest Toyota, edging Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr., the defending race winner. Ryan Blaney, Chris Buescher, Jimmie Johnson and Alex Bowman also advanced to the second round of time trials and will start ninth through 12th, respectively.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Qualifying Results Toyota/Save Mart 350
Sonoma Raceway
Sonoma, California
Saturday, June 22, 2019

1. (42) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 95.712 mph.

2. (24) William Byron, Chevrolet, 95.669 mph.

3. (22) Joey Logano, Ford, 95.618 mph.

4. (9) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 95.597 mph.

5. (41) Daniel Suarez, Ford, 95.234 mph.

6. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 95.207 mph.

7. (18) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 95.127 mph.

8. (19) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 95.095 mph.

9. (12) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 94.988 mph.

10. (37) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 94.828 mph.

11. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 94.347 mph.

12. (88) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 94.133 mph.

13. (34) Michael McDowell, Ford, 95.046 mph.

14. (14) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 95.010 mph.

15. (10) Aric Almirola, Ford, 94.872 mph.

16. (1) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 94.751 mph.

17. (17) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 94.748 mph.

18. (38) David Ragan, Ford, 94.677 mph.

19. (95) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 94.573 mph.

20. (47) Ryan Preece #, Chevrolet, 94.431 mph.

21. (6) Ryan Newman, Ford, 94.396 mph.

22. (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 94.384 mph.

23. (4) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 94.372 mph.

24. (21) Paul Menard, Ford, 94.224 mph.

25. (8) Daniel Hemric, Chevrolet, 94.211 mph.

26. (3) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 94.052 mph.

27. (32) Corey LaJoie, Ford, 94.026 mph.

28. (36) Matt Tifft #, Ford, 93.737 mph.

29. (96) Parker Kligerman(i), Toyota, 93.520 mph.

30. (43) Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, 93.506 mph.

31. (13) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 93.487 mph.

32. (20) Erik Jones, Toyota, 93.018 mph.

33. (77) Justin Haley(i), Chevrolet, 92.656 mph.

34. (52) Cody Ware(i), Chevrolet, 92.165 mph.

35. (00) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 91.897 mph.

36. (51) JJ Yeley, Chevrolet, 91.488 mph.

37. (15) Kyle Weatherman(i), Chevrolet, 88.695 mph.

38. (27) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.