RICHMOND, Va. – Kyle Larson will lead Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series field to green at Richmond Raceway.
Larson posted a lap of 117.177 mph to score the pole position in the final round of group qualifying. The reigning Cup Series champion has one win at the .75-mile track as well as three top-five finishes and seven top-10s in 15 starts there. The 30-year-old will compete in the Knoxville Nationals in Iowa on Saturday evening before returning to Richmond for Sunday’s Cup Series race.
"Even though I got into (turn) one too hard and a little bit sideways, I am imagining that is where I made up my time," Larson said of his fast lap. "Just getting in really deep and I think getting it under control before I got to the exit is probably where I made up the lap time."
The pole is the third this season for the Elk Grove, California, native and his 13th in the NASCAR Cup Series. For Hendrick Motorsports, it is the company's 236th career pole and fifth this season.
"It’s cool to get a pole here at Richmond," Larson said. "I didn't feel very good and practice, so very happy with the hard work that everybody's been putting in on our on our Chevys. Thanks to everybody at Hendrick Motorsports and HendrickCars.com and Hendrick Automotive Group."
The driver of the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is not the only Hendrick Motorsports car set to start in the top five at Richmond. William Byron will line up fourth in the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, while Alex Bowman rounds out the top five in the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. Bowman won at this track in the spring event of 2021 – his first of four wins that season.
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In this year’s spring event at the Richmond, Virginia, venue, Byron (third), Larson (fifth) and Bowman (eighth) all finished in the top 10. Byron led a team-high 122 laps in the race but was passed for the lead with five circuits to go.
Chase Elliott will start 23rd in the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. The Dawsonville, Georgia, native placed eighth overall in the group practice session and was third on the 10-lap average board. The Cup Series points leader has four top-five finishes at the .75-mile track with his best result coming in a runner-up finish in the spring of 2018.
The Rick Hendrick-owned organization has 11 victories in the capital city of Virginia. Jimmie Johnson and Terry Labonte each won three times at the .75-mile track, while Jeff Gordon posted two wins. Bowman, Tim Richmond and Joe Nemechek won once at the Virginia short track. The six drivers to visit victory lane are tied for the most by any one team at Richmond. In addition, the team’s 38 wins in "The Old Dominion State" are the second-most all time among Cup Series teams and the most it has accumulated in any one state.
Short tracks have long been a strength for Hendrick Motorsports. Its 55 wins on that track type serve as the best mark by an active team with 14 drivers contributing to that victory total. Over the last eight short-track races (dating back to November 2020 at Martinsville Speedway), the organization has won five times. During that span, each driver in the current lineup won at least once - Elliott in 2020 at Martinsville, Larson in 2021 at Bristol Motor Speedway and Byron in April at Martinsville - with Bowman picking up two wins (Richmond and Martinsville in 2021).
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Tune in to the 400-lap race on Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on USA Network, MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).