Larson to lead the NASCAR Cup Series field to green at Phoenix

AVONDALE, ARIZONA - NOVEMBER 06: Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, looks on from the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series Championship at Phoenix Raceway on November 06, 2021 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Championship contender Kyle Larson easily won the pole position for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Championship race (3 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) with a top speed of 137.837 mph in the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet – going out next to last among the 39 cars entered.

Larson, the Regular Season Champion and a nine-time race winner, easily out-ran the field. His time was .173-seconds faster than his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, defending series champ Chase Elliott who will start alongside him on the front row.

The other two Championship contending drivers, Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota and his JGR teammate, Martin Truex Jr. will start sixth and 12th, respectively.

“A great start to the weekend,” Larson said, downplaying the pole position a bit. “I don’t know if it’s a championship-winning moment, but either way, it’s great to get off to a good start.”

Elliott, who is the defending race winner, said he remained encouraged about his chances and the front row start, a good sign.

“I feel like we were okay, I definitely feel like we need to be better though for tomorrow,” Elliott said. “We kind of chased some things through practice, kind of wound up back in a familiar place I feel like for the race, kind of where we’ve been in the past.

“We’re going to live with that. We’ll see where it takes us.”