RIDGEWAY, Va. – Kyle Larson will start Sunday afternoon’s Cup Series main event at Martinsville Speedway from the pole as he attempts to earn his first career victory at the southern Virginia short-track.
Larson’s lap time of 19.709 seconds earned him the first starting position. The track position will aid the 30-year-old driver as he attempts to win back-to-back races for the first time since 2021.
“I feel like a lot of times here slower is faster, so just trying to be smooth win it," said Larson. "I’m surprised I did anything good here at Martinsville, so we’re off to a good start here and hopefully we can keep going tomorrow.”
Despite not being eligible to race for the driver’s championship, Larson reaffirmed his commitment to capturing the owner’s title with the No. 5 HendrickCars.com team.
“My mindset hasn’t changed at all really. Just grateful to still get the opportunity to race for the owner’s championship,” said Larson. “I don’t lose any sleep about it at night.”
Chase Elliott also advanced into the final round of qualifying and will take the green flag in the runner-up spot. The Dawsonville, Georgia, native will go for his second career Martinsville grandfather clock this Sunday as he looks to earn his third consecutive Championship 4 appearance.
Noah Gragson earned the 17th spot on the grid. Gragson returns for his fifth Cup Series race of the season in the No. 48 Ally Racing Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. On Friday, Alex Bowman announced that he would return to the No. 48 entry at Phoenix Raceway for the season finale at his home track.
William Byron will take the green flag in the 25th position as he aims to win back-to-back races at Martinsville and advance to the Championship 4 in Phoenix. The driver of the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 was second-fastest in the five-lap average category during practice.
With one race left in the Round of 8, both Elliott (+11) and Byron (+5) enter the southern Virginia short-track above the cutline to advance into the Championship 4. The Cup Series has visited Martinsville once already this season with these two drivers combining to lead 98.5% of the laps. The pair will look to build off this performance in April and enter Phoenix with a chance to win Hendrick Motorsports’ third consecutive driver’s title.
While not in the driver’s championship, Larson’s dominate victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway earned the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 a berth in the owner’s Championship 4.
As for the track itself, Martinsville has several unique characteristics that will not be seen at any other track on the schedule. The short-track has played host to Cup Series action since NASCAR was founded in 1948, making Martinsville the last original venue on the tour's calendar. The facility also features asphalt straightaways but a concrete surface in the turns. With a distance of .526 miles in length and 12 degrees of banking in the corners, Martinsville serves as a unique and historic venue to host the final race in the Round of 8.
Catch the 500-lap Cup Series main event at 2:00 p.m. ET this Sunday on NBC, MRN Radio, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).