On Friday afternoon, potential would be meant by results as Kyle Larson would score his first career Coors Light Pole Award in his 25th Sprint Cup Series start. Larson lapped the tricky triangle in 49.063 seconds to become the first NASCAR Drive for Diversity Graduate to win a pole, and set a new track record.
“It’s great to get my first ‘real’ pole,” Larson commented. “I got the pole at Richmond, but that was due to qualifying raining out and we were quickest in practice. This time we got to beat the rain by a little bit and actually got to earn the pole. It was exciting last round for us. I had some butterflies actually going into it. I really haven’t had any butterflies at all this season during qualifying. I don’t know if I knew I was going to get the pole if I didn’t mess up or what. I was definitely nervous. I felt like I hit all three corners about as good as I could.
“I barely edged out Joey (Logano) which feels great. He has been fast in qualifying. Him and Brad (Keselowski) both and they were right there behind me. It just feels really good and definitely adds to the confidence for Sunday.”
He’d be followed by Team Penske teammates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski as they continue the team’s strong qualifying effort this season.
“My Shell/Pennzoil Ford is really fast and I felt like that as soon as we unloaded today that we were loose, but the car still had a lot of speed in it,” Logano said. “We definitely made some good adjustments. When your car is loose and it still had speed, and I knew we could tighten it up and get some of that speed back. In qualifying trim we were decent and when we went into qualifying itself I felt like the first lap was really good. There were some things I could have done to make it a little bit better, so a couple of adjustments we could have done just to tighten it up a little bit probably would have helped. So we made those little adjustments and tried to keep up with the cycles on tires and as we burned fuel off the car. Anytime you win the first two sessions you feel pretty good about what you’re gonna have in the third and ran the third session really hard.
“I felt like we nailed the setup, nailed the balance. I felt like I actually nailed the lap on all three corners and I was pretty confident – really, really confident that that was gonna be the pole and we got beat, so that’s frustrating. I saw a stat on TV a minute ago, which wasn’t exciting, but it’s our sixth front row start this year, which is good, but there’s only one pole out of that so second sucks. It’s still something to be proud of. We’ve made the final session in each qualifying session besides the superspeedways, so any track that handling comes into we’ve made the final session.”
Kurt Busch qualified fourth, while Indianapolis winner Jeff Gordon rounded out the top five as Hendrick Motorsports is looking for their fifth straight victory at Pocono Raceway.
Kevin Harvick would qualify sixth, followed by Kyle Busch, Jamie McMurray, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Danica Patrick.