NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookie driver Kyle Larson claimed his first-career pole starting spot on Friday with a 183.438 mph/49.063 second track record-breaking lap around Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa., in the third and final round of qualifying to get the first starting spot for Sunday’s GoBowling.com 400 at the track.
“I had butterflies in that last round,” Larson said. “I knew we had a shot at the pole after the second round. I was nervous, and I hit all three corners about as good as I could so I was really excited about that.”
While the Pocono pole is the first “official” pole as the credited to Larson, he did start first at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway earlier in the season when qualifying was cancelled by because of rain.
Larson was the only driver the beat the Team Penske teammates of Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski in the final round of qualifying on Friday.
Logano will start next to Larson on the front row in the second spot on the grid, while Keselowski will start third. Larson was the only driver faster than Logano, overall, through the entire qualifying session, as Logano turned in the fastest laps in both the first and second rounds.
“I thought it would be Joey (on the pole), took,” Larson said. “Those Penske cars are fast every weekend.”
Joining Keselowski in row two will be Kurt Busch, who was fourth fastest in the third round.
“It was a good day for the Haas Automation team,” Busch said. “We were in position to get a pole. We had speed in practice and all the way through our three runs. We picked up time in our final run, and we need to do more of that. We picked up speed on that last outing, but it just wasn’t enough.”
Jeff Gordon rounded out the top-five in the final round of qualifying. Advancing to the third round and claiming sixth through 12th on the starting grid for Sunday’s race were Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Jamie McMurray, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Danica Patrick, Austin Dillon and Kasey Kahne.