Kyle Larson wins pole for NASCAR Cup race at Richmond Raceway
RICHMOND, Va. -- Kyle Larson, the last driver in the final round of qualifying, ran 117.177 miles per hour and edged Ross Chastain for the pole position for Sunday’s 400-lap NASCAR Cup Series race at Richmond Raceway.
Larson finished his qualifying run at about 7 p.m. ET then left the track hurriedly to travel to Knoxville, Iowa to race in Saturday night’s Knoxville Nationals sprint car race, an event he won last year.
Following Larson and Chastain, who ran 116.883, in the top 10 were Denny Hamlin, William Byron, Alex Bowman, Martin Truex Jr., Cole Custer, Brad Keselowski, Erik Jones and Ryan Blaney.
Fifteen drivers have qualified for the playoff grid entering Sunday’s race. Kevin Harvick won last week at Michigan, ending a 65-race winless streak, to fill the 15th spot.
Blaney holds the 16th playoff spot based on points.
Truex is the first driver below the playoff cutline and is shooting for a win in one or more of the final three races of the regular season. Truex, who has won three times at Richmond and was fourth here in this year’s spring race, will be among the favorites Sunday.
Winning the pole delayed Larson’s planned departure for Iowa and one of his favorite races of the year.
“The schedule couldn’t have been much worse,” he said. “And I knew it was going to be this late before the season ever started. So I was hoping it would change eventually before we got to this weekend, but it still leaves me just enough time to make it in time to run.”
The cars of Keselowski, Noah Gragson, Chris Buescher, Justin Haley and Todd Gilliland failed inspection twice. Each team had a crew member ejected from the track.