Larson snatches pole from teammate at Sonoma

SONOMA, CA - JUNE 24: Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, and his son, Owen, pose with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 24, 2017 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)

California has been very, very good to Kyle Larson.  Larson scored his second consecutive pole Saturday grabbing the top spot for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Toyota Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway.

Saturday’s pole was the fourth of his career and his first at Sonoma. It also marked the first time in his Cup career to second back-to-back poles having won the top spot last week at Michigan. His pole winning run almost came apart however. Larson nearly lost it entering turn 11, the final corner.

“The whole lap actually felt pretty bad. I messed up into (Turn) 1 and into (Turn) 2 and was out a little bit too far,” Larson said. “Yeah, I felt like I gave up enough there that I wouldn’t have a shot at the pole. I thought maybe I’d maintain and run about the same lap time as the previous run. So, I was surprised and I was happy about that.”

It was the third pole of the season for Larson, a California native whose first pole of the season came at Fontana California in March.

“This is cool to get a pole on a road course at my home state,” Larson said. “This is my closest track to Sacramento or Elk Grove where I grew up. I have lots of friends and family here.”

The pole came at the expense of his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Jamie McMurray.  McMurray was out first in the final round of two and held the provisional pole most of the final 10 minutes only to see Larson put down a lap of 1:15.177, 95.295 mph with just over two minutes left.

“Kyle (Larson) just got a little bit more,” McMurray said. “I thought he was going to give it back to me in Turn 11. The lap tracker is painful when you go first. It’s horrible to have to watch that, but that’s cool. That team’s been on a roll.”

Martin Truex Jr. who nearly missed making it to the final round will start third, followed by Kyle Busch and AJ Allmendinger.

“It definitely hurt the tires to make an extra lap in the first round,” Truex said. “I just didn’t get it all the first time — tried to save a little bit of tire. But if you don’t push it 100 percent here you lose a lot of time. I just under-drove it. Luckily, we were able to make it through the first round… We can win from the third qualifying spot.”

Danica Patrick will start from sixth, her third best career starting spot; Ryan Blaney seventh with Chase Elliott whose first laps in a backup car came in the first round where he put down the fastest lap, starting eighth.

Chris Buescher, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Daniel Suarez and Kevin Harvick round out the top 12.

No doubt Larson hopes to continue the streak he started at Fontana. In both races he’s won the pole at this season, Fontana and Michigan last week, Larson has gone onto victory.

With 38 entries, no team was sent home. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Toyota Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway gets the green flag just after 3:00 p.m. ET Sunday with live coverage on Fox Sports 1.

Greg Engle
About Greg Engle 7421 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.