Story By: REID SPENCER / NASCAR – RICHMOND, VA – Kyle Larson was a man on the move on Saturday at Richmond Raceway.
First off, he won the pole position for Sunday’s Federated Auto Parts 400 (3 p.m. ET on USA, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Shortly thereafter, Larson left on a plane for Knoxville, Iowa, where he was locked into the main event in the prestigious Knoxville Nationals for winged sprint cars.
But before he was set to run the 1,425-pound sprint car, he navigated the .75-mile Richmond short track in 23.042 seconds (117.177 mph) in his 3,400-pound Camaro to knock fellow Chevrolet driver Ross Chastain (116.883 mph) off the provisional pole for Sunday’s race, the 24th NASCAR regular-season event of the season.
Coincidentally, Larson had lined up a plane ride with Justin Marks, Chastain’s Trackhouse Racing team owner, for the trip to Knoxville.
Chastain’s time of 23.100 seconds had held up until Larson made his run as the last driver on the track. Larson also had run the quickest qualifying lap of the afternoon (22.863 seconds/118.095 mph) to top Group B in the first round of time trials.
Larson drove hard into Turn 1 on his money lap and thought that might be where he gained an edge.
“Even though I got into (Turn) 1 way too hard and sideways, I’m imagining that’s probably where I made up my time,” Larson said. “Just getting it in really deep, and I think getting it under control before I got to the exit probably is where I made up the lap time.
“I don’t know, though. It could be (Turns) 3 and 4. Who knows? But I felt like I got in a little deep—too deep for sure—but I think it worked out in the end.”
Denny Hamlin, who won the April 3 race at Richmond, qualified third at 116.485 mph. The Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolets of William Byron and Alex Bowman were fourth and fifth, respectively.
The two drivers battling for the final spot in the NASCAR Cup Playoff both made the final round. Martin Truex Jr. qualified sixth, but Ryan Blaney, who leads Truex by 19 points for the last Playoff berth, got loose on his first lap in the final round and had to back out of the throttle.
Blaney will start 10th on Sunday.