Kyle Larson loses pole position on another inspection failure; Martin Truex Jr. starts first
LOUDON, New Hampshire – After appearing to bounce back from a penalty, Kyle Larson’s team ran afoul of the law again Friday.
Larson turned the fastest lap (133.324 mph) in qualifying at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, but the speed was disallowed afterward for an unapproved rear deck fin on his No. 42 Chevrolet.
That put Martin Truex Jr., who won at Kentucky Speedway last weekend, on the pole position for the first time in 2017.
“Not the way we wanted to get our first pole of the year but looking forward to starting up front and getting a good pit stall,” Truex said in a statement distributed by Furniture Row Racing.
Jimmie Johnson qualified second, followed by Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray and Kasey Kahne.
NASCAR announced Larson’s disqualification at 6:50 ET, roughly 45 minutes after he seemed to have captured his fourth pole position of the season.
Larson’s car passed a prequalifying inspection, but a postrace inspection revealed that the part improperly had shifted.
Larson will start last for the second consecutive race after the latest of numerous run-ins with NASCAR inspectors. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver also started from the rear at Kentucky Speedway after failing to get through inspection in time to make a qualifying attempt (which also happened at Texas Motor Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway).
Larson is working at New Hampshire with interim crew chief Tony Lunders in place of Chad Johnston, who was suspended three races for an improper rear brake cooling assembly at Kentucky.
Larson also was docked 35 points for the infraction, knocking him from atop the standings behind Truex.
“I honestly know nothing about race cars, so I don’t honestly know what it was that got us in trouble,” Larson said Friday when asked about the Kentucky penalty. “Yeah, it was a big penalty, so it must have been something important in their eyes.”
Larson will be held 30 minutes from the final practice Saturday at New Hampshire after failing prerace inspection multiple times at Kentucky (where his car was last to be rolled to the starting grid before it completed a race-high 90 green-flag passes in finishing second).
The disallowed speed serves as the penalty for Friday’s infraction, meaning there will be no further penalties for the unapproved rear deck fin next week.