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Kyle Larson Takes Dover Cup Series Pole

AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway
Friday, May 4, 2018

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Kyle Larson
Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

In a sport where differences are often measured in thousandths, Kyle Larson was in firm control of Friday's Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series knockout qualifying session at Dover International Speedway-after an adjustment between the first and second rounds at least.

Larson charged around the high-banked one-mile concrete track in 22.770 seconds (158.103 mph) to earn the pole position for Sunday's AAA 400. Saving his fastest lap for the third and final round, Larson was the only driver to top 158 mph during the session.

Kevin Harvick, a three-time winner in 2018, earned the second position on the grid with a lap at 157.494 mph (22.858 seconds). Reigning series champion Martin Truex Jr. from Mayetta, New Jersey, qualified third at 157.432 mph at the venue he considers his home track.

Larson's No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet was too loose in the first round, drifted to the tight side in the second-though he was still able to lead the round at 157.432 mph. In the third round, however, the team found the sweet spot for Larson's Camaro ZL1.

"I felt like I nailed that lap pretty good," Larson said of his effort in the money round. "Everything from coming to the green to (Turns) 1 and 2 were really good. (Turns) 3 and 4, I maybe left a little bit out there. I got in there a little hot and up the track. I planned on kind of moving up the race track each round.

"The first round caught me of guard. I was really loose getting in, but they made great adjustments on the DC Solar Chevy throughout the next two rounds. The second round we were probably a little too tight, but they kind of found the happy medium there for the final round. So, I'm happy about that. We've always qualified good here. I had yet to get a pole. I've raced well here but have yet to get a win. Maybe we'll get both out of the way this weekend."

In fact, Larson has scored top-five finishes in four of his eight starts at the Monster Mile, including seconds in each of the last two spring races. His average finishing position is 7.9.

The Busch Pole Award is Larson's first of the season, the fifth of his career and his first at a track shorter than two miles.

With a career average starting position of 16.7 at Dover, Harvick was happy to put his no. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford on the front row.

"We're feeling good about qualifying well," Harvick said. "That's not been something that we've done 100-percent great here. We've qualified OK. It definitely goes a long way in helping get your day started.

"This is definitely a race track that can take a while to work your way up the field, so you don't want to dig yourself a hole early on. They made the car better all three rounds. We ran our fastest lap at the end. I lost a lot of time in (Turns) 1 and 2. I got myself hung a little higher and longer than I needed to finish the corner. Still a good lap for us and I'm looking forward to race runs."

Kyle Busch claimed the fourth position on the grid. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chase Elliott, Daniel Suarez and Brad Keselowski will start from the fifth through eighth positions, respectively.

Jimmie Johnson, an 11-time winner at Dover who hopes to jump-start a heretofore lackluster season, will have to do so from the 19th starting spot.

RACE LINEUP

Pos # Driver Sponsor/Make Lap Speed
1 42 Kyle Larson DC Solar Chevrolet 22.77 158.103
2 4 Kevin Harvick Jimmy John's Ford 22.858 157.494
3 78 Martin Truex Jr. 5-hour ENERGY/Bass Pro Shops Toyota 22.867 157.432
4 18 Kyle Busch Pedigree Toyota 22.897 157.226
5 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Little Hug Fruit Barrels Ford 22.929 157.006
6 9 Chase Elliott NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet 22.969 156.733
7 19 Daniel Suarez STANLEY Toyota 22.997 156.542
8 2 Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Ford 23.011 156.447
9 41 Kurt Busch Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford 23.035 156.284
10 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Office Toyota 23.078 155.993
11 20 Erik Jones XYO Network Toyota 23.092 155.898
12 14 Clint Bowyer Haas Automation Demo Day Ford 23.121 155.703
13 10 Aric Almirola Smithfield Ford 23.096 155.871
14 12 Ryan Blaney Menards/Duracell Ford 23.115 155.743
15 88 Alex Bowman Nationwide Chevrolet 23.128 155.655
16 37 Chris Buescher Kroger Clickist Chevrolet 23.149 155.514
17 24 William Byron # AXALTA Chevrolet 23.179 155.313
18 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford 23.181 155.3
19 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's for Pros Chevrolet 23.193 155.219
20 21 Paul Menard Motorcraft Ford 23.201 155.166
21 31 Ryan Newman Caterpillar Chevrolet 23.222 155.025
22 6 Trevor Bayne AdvoCare Ford 23.274 154.679
23 1 Jamie McMurray GEARWRENCH Chevrolet 23.301 154.5
24 32 Matt DiBenedetto Keen Parts/CorvetteParts.Net Ford 23.495 153.224
25 95 Kasey Kahne Ollie's Bargain Outlet Chevrolet 23.306 154.467
26 43 Darrell Wallace Jr. # Eckrich Chevrolet 23.345 154.209
27 3 Austin Dillon AAA Chevrolet 23.36 154.11
28 47 AJ Allmendinger Kroger ClickList Chevrolet 23.375 154.011
29 34 Michael McDowell Dockside Logistics Ford 23.384 153.951
30 13 Ty Dillon GEICO Chevrolet 23.459 153.459
31 15 Ross Chastain(i) Florida Watermelon Assoc. Chevrolet 23.502 153.178
32 38 David Ragan Shriners Hospital For Children Ford 23.593 152.588
33 0 Landon Cassill RNH ELECTRIC Chevrolet 23.649 152.226
34 55 Reed Sorenson VIP Racing Experience Chevrolet 24.026 149.838
35 23 Gray Gaulding Earthwater Toyota 24.048 149.701
36 99 Derrike Cope StarCom Fiber Chevrolet 24.884 144.671
37 51 Cody Ware(i) KeensBuildings.com Chevrolet 25.442 141.498
38 72 Corey LaJoie TriStar Motorsports Chevrolet 0 0

 

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