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NASCAR: Rookie Kyle Larson Wins Pocono PoleSalem-News.com Sports
Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch, and Jeff Gordon round out the top five.
(LONG POND, Pa. ) - Kyle Larson won the Coors Light Pole Award on Friday afternoon at Pocono Raceway, turning a record-setting lap of 183.438 mph in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying.
Larson, driving the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet, claimed the first pole positon of his Sprint Cup career at the 2.5-mile triangular track and became the first NASCAR Drive for Diversity product to claim a pole position in NASCAR's premier series.
He'll start first in Sunday's GoBowling.com 400 (1:00 p.m. ET, ESPN) with six races to go until the cut-off for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs.
Larson will lead the field to the green flag for the second time in his career. He started first in April at Richmond International Raceway, but took the No. 1 berth based on practice speeds after Coors Light Pole Qualifying was rained out.
Larson's blazing lap in the final five-minute qualifying session upended Team Penske driver Joey Logano, who led the opening two segments but could muster just a 183.408 mph lap at the end. Logano will start on the front row for the sixth time in 20 races this season.
"I had butterflies in that last round," said Larson, who celebrated his 22nd birthday Thursday. "I knew we had a shot at the pole after the second round. I was nervous and I hit all three corners about as good as I could, so I was really excited about that."
Brad Keselowski, Logano's Team Penske teammate, claimed the third spot just ahead of fourth-fastest Kurt Busch. Jeff Gordon, last week's winner at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, completed the top five qualifiers.
A handful of drivers eclipsed the former track record early on, topping the previous mark of 181.415 mph set by Denny Hamlin in June. Logano bested it in leading the first session at 181.800 mph, then lowered it to an even faster 182.319 mph in the 10-minute second segment.
Several drivers had trouble in the opening 25-minute segment. Greg Biffle drew a penalty in the opening minutes of qualifying, committing a blend-line violation in merging onto the track.
NASCAR officials ordered him to pit road and that attempt at posting a time was disallowed. Jimmie Johnson suffered the same fate in the final five minutes of the opening session. After serving his penalty, he returned to the track and eliminated Biffle at the buzzer, taking the last spot among the 24 drivers to advance.
Carl Edwards had a different sort of trouble, scraping the Turn 2 wall and then bouncing the Roush Fenway Racing No. 99 Ford through the grass before hitting the access lane. He failed to make the 24-driver first cut as his team pushed the car back to the Sprint Cup garage for repairs.
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