CHICAGO – Kyle Larson earned the best qualifying spot among the four-car fleet for Hendrick Motorsports in the inaugural street race at Chicago.
The driver of the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Patriotic Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will start seventh for Sunday’s race. In the final round of qualifying, Larson ran a lap of 88.480 mph. The 30-year-old has four road course wins, which are tied for the third-most among active drivers.
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Alex Bowman will line up 13th in the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. The 30-year-old driver just missed advancing to the final round of qualifying but was bumped in the closing moments. He has two runner-up finishes on road courses in his Cup Series career.
William Byron is set to start 22nd in the No. 24 Valvoline Chevy. During practice, the 25-year-old driver got into the wall in turn four and suffered a broken toe link. The No. 24 crew worked fast to change it and got him back out on track for the latter half of the session. Upon a more extensive look at the car, the team discovered a further issue that will need a repair. The three-time winner in 2023 earned his best road course result in the sport’s top series in March – a fifth-place result at Circuit of The Americas.
Chase Elliott will be credited with the 26th starting spot in the No. 9 Hooters Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. However, during a second run in qualifying, he clipped the inside barrier of turn seven and hit into the wall in turn eight. The incident resulted in significant left-front damage to Elliott’s ride and he will move to a backup car. With seven wins on serpentine layouts, the 27-year-old has the most road course victories among active drivers and the third-most all-time.
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Denny Hamlin earned the pole position for the race. This weekend’s race in downtown Chicago is the series’ first-ever street course race. The course runs against the backdrop of Windy City landmarks Grant Park, Lake Michigan and the start-finish line is in front of Buckingham Fountain. Lake Shore Drive, Columbus Drive, Balbo Drive, Michigan Avenue and Jackson Drive will be used in the 12-turn, 2.2-mile course. The course was developed via iRacing and used in an eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series event (run by Cup Series drivers) in 2021.
Before qualifying, Larson placed sixth (87.823 mph) in the 50-minute practice session. Larson and Byron were third and seventh, respectively, on the five-lap average board. Bowman placed 10th on the 10-lap consecutive average board.
In recent years, the Cup Series has had several additions to the schedule and the Rick Hendrick-owned organization has been successful in four of the last eight of those events. Since 2020, the team has won the first races to be held at: the Daytona International Speedway Road Course (Elliott in 2020), Circuit of The Americas (Elliott in 2021) and Nashville Superspeedway (Larson in 2021). In addition, the 2021 race at Road America, won by Elliott, was the first race at the Wisconsin venue in 65 years.
With 26 wins, Hendrick Motorsports has the most all-time triumphs on road courses in Cup Series history. Since its inaugural season in 1984, the organization has won 27.96% of road course events (26 wins in 93 races). The team also tops the board among Cup Series squads on road courses in poles (25), top-five finishes (83), top-10s (142), laps led (2,207) and stage wins (14). Seven different drivers (most by a Cup Series team on road courses) have accounted for the 26 road course wins: Jeff Gordon (nine wins), Elliott (seven wins), Larson (four wins), Tim Richmond (three wins), Jimmie Johnson (one win), Geoff Bodine (one win) and Ricky Rudd (one win).
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The 100-lap race will take place at 5 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 2, with coverage on NBC, Peacock, MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.