Kyle Larson earned the Busch Light Pole Award with a lap at 117.177 mph in NASCAR Cup Series qualifying at Richmond Raceway on Saturday evening.
The pole is his third of 2022 and first since Sonoma Raceway in June. Larson was the final qualifier in the second round of qualifying, besting Ross Chastain’s lap at 116.883 mph to lead the field to the green flag for the Federated Auto Parts 400 on Sunday (3 p.m. ET, USA Network, NBC Sports App, MRN Radio, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
“Even though I got into (Turn) 1 way too hard and sideways, I‘m imagining that‘s probably where I made up my time,” Larson said. “Just getting it in really deep, and I think getting it under control before I got to the exit probably is where I made up the lap time.
“I don‘t know, though. It could be (Turns) 3 and 4. Who knows? But I felt like I got in a little deep — too deep for sure — but I think it worked out in the end.”
Completing the top five on the starting grid will be Denny Hamlin (116.485 mph), William Byron (116.470 mph) and Alex Bowman (116.384 mph).
Martin Truex Jr., a three-time winner at Richmond, will roll off sixth (116.204 mph) ahead of Cole Custer (116.139 mph), Brad Keselowski (116.104), Erik Jones 116.064 mph) and Ryan Blaney (115.785 mph).
Ahead of qualifying, five teams were penalized for failing pre-qualifying technical inspection, including Keselowski. All five teams each saw one crew member ejected and lost the ability to select their pit stall for Sunday’s race.
Aric Almirola was fourth-fastest in practice behind Austin Cindric, but both Fords struggled in qualifying as early hot-lappers. They qualified 32nd and 33rd, respectively.
Ross Chastain was fastest in practice, posting the quickest lap at an average of 117.514 mph. Behind him were Tyler Reddick, Austin Cindric, Aric Almirola and Martin Truex Jr.
Perhaps more telling for Chastain, however, was where else he was fastest — on the consecutive 10-lap average sheet. Chastain was quickest of the 29 cars who ran 10 straight laps with an average speed of 115.419 mph. Almirola was second over the course of 10 laps, followed by Chase Elliott, Truex and Hamlin.
Truex enters Richmond trailing Ryan Blaney for the final playoff position by 19 points. While Truex was fourth-fastest on the 10-lap averages, Blaney was only ninth.
Contributing: NASCAR Wire Service.