Rain washes out Martinsville qualifying, Larson on pole

The Air Titans led the most laps on Friday
The Air Titans led the most laps on Friday
Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Qualifying for Sunday’s STP 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway has been cancelled due to inclement weather.

The starting grid has been set per the provisions in the NASCAR rulebook. Starting positions are based on the current Owner’s points.

There will be 16 Chevrolet SS drivers competing in Sunday’s 500-mile race. Starting on the pole will be Kyle Larson in his No. 42 Target Chevrolet SS. This is the second consecutive race that Larson will start from the first position. He won the pole for last weekend’s race at Auto Club Speedway and then went on to claim the victory at that track.

Chase Elliott, No. 24 SunEnergy1 Chevrolet SS, sits second in the point standings and will make it an all Chevrolet front row by starting on the outside next to Larson.

Although rain has been internment throughout the day at the 0.526-mile track, the drivers in the MENCS did get on-track for a one-hour practice session. During that session, some drivers posted times.

Martin Truex, Jr. (Toyota) will start third, Brad Keselowski (Ford) will start fourth and Joey Logano (Ford) will start fifth to round out the top five starters.

The STP 500 is scheduled to begin on Sunday, April 2nd at 2 p.m., ET and will be aired live on FoxSports1, MRN Radio and Sirius NASCAR Radio Channel 90.

QUALIFYING PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPTS:

KYLE LARSON, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET SS – STARTING FIRST

Kyle Larson to start from pole
Kyle Larson to start from pole

HOW MUCH OF AN ADVANTAGE DO YOU FIND THE FIRST STARTING SPOT TO BE FOR YOU GOING INTO SUNDAY’S STP 500?
“Yeah, I think it will be a good advantage there to start on the pole. Hopefully, get the jump and kind of take care of my stuff early. That number one pit stall will be big here. It seems like the number one pit stall here is as good as it gets for any race track we go to. Excited about that. Our race car I thought was a little bit too tight I thought in practice, so we will work on that some for tomorrow and hopefully be good."

INAUDIBLE:
“I’m not sure if because we have less downforce or what, but coming around this time … if that makes the wheel hop worse, but yeah I got caught off guard there early in the first run that I did. I wheel hopped and almost wrecked into (Turn) 1 and I thought maybe my tires were just cold or whatever, so I backed my entry and backed my braking up and then just start to try and get more and more out of it and I wheel hopped again and had another moment. It feels a little weird. I feel like I’ve driven in harder and used more brake pressure in the past than I have so far today and the braking was a little sketchy. I’m sure we will work on that a little bit and hopefully get better for tomorrow."

HOW EASY OR DIFFICULT IS IT GOING TO BE USING THE TRACK POSITION YOU ALREADY HAVE TO STAY UP FRONT FOR MOST OF THE DAY?
“It definitely helps to start up front. I think this will be my most difficult track probably to earn stage points each of the stages, just because it’s not a track that suits me that well. This is the toughest track for me, so it’s cool to be the only guy that has made points every stage. I think the stage points are a big deal to gain points and help point your way to the playoffs if need be. So, yeah, it’s been nice to run so strong early in the year, especially all throughout the race because, like I said, those stage points have turned out to be really big and important."

YOU HAVE TALKED A LOT ABOUT YOUR STRUGGLES HERE, BUT WHAT DID YOU DO HERE WHEN YOU FINISHED THIRD THAT WAS DIFFERENT OR WAS THAT JUST DUMB LUCK?
“I was thinking about that a little bit and I think I have gotten better here for sure. Our race car got a lot better last year, but then I remember it being really cold outside, I think, that first race, so the track didn’t lay a whole lot of rubber, so it didn’t wear out tires as bad. So, me being more aggressive didn’t wear the tires out quite as bad. I was a little bit better on long runs and stuff then and stayed up front and had a good race."

IS IT JUST THE CONFIGURATION OF THIS TRACK THAT MAYBE DOESN’T SUIT YOUR STYLE AS MUCH AS YOU WOULD PREFER?
“Yeah, Martinsville here is really small and it’s extremely flat, no progressive banking or whatever. That makes it why it’s one lane around here and kind of frustrating for a guy like me who likes to move around, but also exciting for the race fans because it is so small. You have to use the bumper to get by people sometimes. I actually liked… so last year for the second race they tried that VHT or whatever a couple of weeks before the event and had like a test or a late model test or something. They didn’t really like it, so they thought they had taken it all off, but there was still a little bit up there and I thought the second race last year was really good because you could kind of run that lane up and move around. I wish they could do it again, but I don’t think they have it down on the track this time around."

WITH THE NEW RIGHT-SIDE TIRE HOW MUCH MIGHT THAT HELP IN CREATING HELPING MOVE UP OR ARE YOU GOING TO NEED IT TO BE A REALLY HOT DAY TO REALLY KIND OF TAKE TO THE SURFACE?
“No, I thought I noticed there and maybe Chase (Elliott) did as well, I thought it laid rubber way faster than it has in the past. At least you could see it and maybe because I was tight I just felt it more, but to me it seemed like it laid rubber a lot easier. That will definitely impact the race and probably make it a better race. It will probably allow the groove to move around some because I think people’s cars will not handle the way they want them to and they will kind of chase the car up the track a little bit to stay out of that rubber. I don’t know, maybe get that same kind of racing affect as we what we did with the VHT."

CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 24 SUNENERGY1 CHEVROLET SS – STARTING SECOND

HOW ADVANTAGEOUS IS IT FOR YOU TO START ON THE FRONT ROW?

“Anytime I can do anything good at Martinsville is great for me. It’s been a bit of a struggle here and we’ll definitely take it. I think more than anything, have a nice pit pick and hopefully we can get our car dialed in tomorrow to try to stay there. We definitely got a big help with that today."

WHEN IS IT GOING TO COME? WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO GET TO VICTORY LANE? BUT EVERYBODY HAS BEEN TALKING ABOUT TRACK POSITION TODAY ABOUT TRACK POSITION BEING SO CRITICAL HERE AND THAT LEADING TO SUCCESS HERE. DOES THIS STARTING POSITION HELP YOU TO POTENTIALLY BE IN CONTENTION FOR THAT WIN ON SUNDAY?

“I think if you have your car driving well and you know what you’re doing here, I don’t really think it matters where you start. Jimmie Johnson is going to prove to us all how much it matters where you start here on Sundays. So, watch him move forward and you’ll see a guy who knows what he’s doing and who knows how to pass and has his car driving like he needs to be really good. I think if you know what you want and you know how to do it, I think you can start wherever you want."

INAUDIBLE:

“I’ve tried to lean on everybody I can lean on. Just trying to figure it out."

HAVE YOU USED A BIOMETRIC DEVICE? AND HAVE YOU LEARNED ANYTHING FROM IT, FROM THE DATA?

“Yeah, for whatever reason, it seems like that seems to be a trend right now. I don’t know why everybody is doing it. I haven’t worn mine in the car very much. You all know when you’re trying hard and when you’re not trying hard. But, I’ve certainly worn it away from racing and riding mountain bikes and things like that. You kind of learn where your heart rate likes to be and when you’re trying hard, what it is and what it’s not. But, I haven’t experimented much with it in the car just yet. I don’t like things on my wrist when I’m racing. So, until I can find a more comfortable way to do it, then I’m probably not going to right now."

I’M CURIOUS ABOUT THE ALL-STAR EVENT. THERE HAS BEEN TALK ABOUT POSSIBLY INCORPORATING DRIVERS IN OTHER SERIES. WHAT WOULD IT MEAN AND WOULD YOU WANT THAT OPPORTUNITY. SHOULD IT JUST BE CUP ONLY AS OPPOSED TO DRIVERS FROM OTHER SERIES?

“That’s a good question. I don’t really know. I’m not necessarily against it on one front, but it’s just going to be really hard to do. I don’t know how you’re going to incorporate other people because you’re not going to get some of these Cup teams that have just Cup cars to go and put together another type of car to run it. So, I don’t know. I’m not really against it. I just don’t think there’s a very good way to do it, per se."

WHAT’S THE NEW JOB ENTAIL WITH HOOTERS? IS THAT UNIFORM JUST A HOAX?

“No, it’s a legit deal. We’re on board Hooters. You saw my desk, right? Oh hey, yeah. It’s my desk."

INAUDIBLE:

“Uniform? Well, you’ve got to have a uniform if you’re going to work somewhere, right? So, that’s my uniform."

INAUDIBLE:

“Oh, would he? I don’t know about that (laughs)."

IT’S TWO YEARS SINCE YOUR CUP DEBUT. GO BACK TO THAT DAY AND WHAT IT WAS LIKE FOR YOU. HOW MUCH HAS IT CHANGED?

“Well, unfortunately not much has changed at Martinsville as I would have liked it to change for me since that day. It’s definitely a bit of a different feel coming back here and having a couple of races under your belt never hurts. I can’t say I feel any better about Martinsville than I did that first time. You know, it’s still a place that I haven’t gotten my head around yet; and how I want to approach the race. I think I’ve gotten better here since the first time we raced here a few years ago. And I think the last race here was the most improved I’ve ever run here. It wasn’t great and we weren’t anywhere close to where the leaders were, but we were way better for me. Hopefully we can try to take that and get it a little better and just try to keep moving forward. It’s definitely a challenge."

YOU TALKED ABOUT GETTING TO KNOW MARTINSVILLE. JIMMIE JOHNSON TOUCHED ON THAT EARLIER. HE SAID EARLY IN HIS CAREER IT TOOK HIM A WHILE TO ‘GET’ MARTINSVILLE. ARE THERE ANY OTHER TRACKS ON THE CIRCUIT THAT GIVE YOU THAT SAME CHALLENGE THAT YOU’RE STILL WORKING THROUGH?

“I’m working through a lot of race tracks, for sure. Martinsville and Sonoma are, to me, the two that I feel like I need to work on the most. That’s not to say there’s not other places I need to work on. I think I need to do some of that at other places as well. But I think Martinsville and Sonoma are the two places that seem to give me the most troubles last year. So, I’m just trying to work through that. I think some of the things you see here at Martinsville are some of the same things you see at Sonoma with how tight the corners are and how slow some parts of the race track are. So, I think there’s some similarities there; and hopefully if one can be corrected, the other one will come along with it."

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