Rain cooperated with NASCAR and Richmond (Va.) International Raceway for most of the day on Friday, allowing practice sessions for both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide series and Nationwide Series qualifying to go on, as scheduled, but rain and lightning hit the track just in time to cancel Sprint Cup qualifying. As a result, the starting grid for Saturday’s Toyota Owners 400 Sprint Cup Series race, scheduled for Saturday night, was set based on speeds from the first practice session of the day.
Series rookie Kyle Larson will start on the pole and will be joined by frequent front-row starter Brad Keselowski on the front row. Sharing row two will be Clint Bowyer and Kasey Kahne. Starting fifth through 10th will be the most recent race winner Kevin Harvick, Brian Vickers, jamie McMurray, Ryan Truex, Paul Menard and Jimmie Johnson.
“We were debating before practice started to start in qualifying trim or go to race trim and do that,” Larson said. “I wanted to start out in qualifying trim and was able to kind of talk Shine (crew chief Chris Heroy) into doing it. I wasn’t sure what to expect on my lap, but we came here and tested last year for Goodyear and had a good baseline. I was pretty confident going out in qualifying trim without getting used to the car yet. Was able to lay down a fast lap, and then we switched over to race trim and we were good in that, too.”
With 45 drivers entered, the rain left two drivers left in the cold and out of Saturday’s race without being able to make a qualifying attempt: Michael McDowell and Dave Blaney.
Rain is expected to move out of the area Friday night and the local weather forecast looks clear for Saturday night’s race. The green flag is scheduled for soon after 7 p.m. ET Saturday night. The race may be seen live on FOX, with pre-race coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET.