Kyle Larson Beats Out Chase Elliott For Bristol Pole

Kyle Larson wins his third pole of the season
Sarah Crabill/Getty Images

Kyle Larson, a close second to Kyle Busch in the 2018 spring race at Bristol Motor Speedway, took the first step toward avenging that loss—and a handful of others—with a pole-winning effort in Friday's Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series knockout qualifying session at the .533-mile short track.

In the final round, Larson covered the distance in 15.015 seconds (127.792 mph) to complete a sweep of the three rounds in the session.

In winning his first Busch Pole Award at Thunder Valley, his third of the season and the seventh of his career, Larson edged Chase Elliott (127.665 mph) by .015 seconds to earn the top starting spot in Saturday's Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race.

Kyle Busch, a seven-time winner at Bristol, qualified third at 127.639 mph. Paul Menard was fourth and Suncoco Rookie of the Year contender William Byron fifth in a session so tightly contested that the top five qualifiers were separated by a mere .028 seconds.

Byron posted his final-round time first, 15.043 seconds, good for 127.554 mph. Larson took notice.

"I saw William run his '04' there, and I was like, 'That's going to be pretty tough to beat,'" said Larson, who ran his best lap (127.946 mph) in the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet in the first round. "I would have never thought that three other guys would squeeze in between him and I for first and second. It just shows how tough our sport is and our series is.

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"] "But our DC Solar Chevy has been really good all day. I felt a little off in the first practice, but we got it going in the second practice, and then it was fast in every round of qualifying. It's my favorite track. We have yet to get a win here. We've been close so many times. I feel like Kyle (Busch) and I are two best here, but he always seems to edge me out."

In fact, in NASCAR Xfinity and Cup series races at all tracks combined, Larson and Busch have finished 1-2 eight times. Busch has won all eight of those contests.

"Hopefully, this weekend's a little different," Larson said.

Elliott was disappointed at losing the pole—and the No. 1 pit stall that goes with it—by such a small margin.

"You have to be really close to perfect, if not perfect here," Elliott said. "It's so hard to be good for 500 laps, but that's what it takes.

"I really wanted that first pit box. That makes such a huge difference here. If there's any place that it makes a difference, it's here."

Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Aric Almirola, Kurt Busch and Ryan Blaney claimed positions six through 10 on the grid, respectively.

Brad Keselowski qualified 11th and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who needs a victory in the next three races to qualify for the Playoffs, grabbed the 12th starting spot.

Notes: Ford drivers claimed seven of the top 12 starting positions… Jimmie Johnson failed to advance to the final round by .001 seconds, losing out to Stenhouse… The fifth-place effort was the best of Byron's fledgling Cup career… Alex Bowman, currently protecting the final Playoff berth on points, scraped the outside wall in the second round of qualifying and will start 22nd.

RACE LINEUP

Pos # Driver Sponsor/Make Lap Speed
1 42 Kyle Larson DC Solar Chevrolet 15.015 127.792
2 9 Chase Elliott Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet 15.03 127.665
3 18 Kyle Busch M&M's White Chocolate Toyota 15.033 127.639
4 21 Paul Menard Menards/Knauf Ford 15.037 127.605
5 24 William Byron
Liberty University Chevrolet 15.043 127.554
6 4 Kevin Harvick Jimmy John's Ford 15.104 127.039
7 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Freight Toyota 15.121 126.896
8 10 Aric Almirola Smithfield Anytime Favorites Ford 15.123 126.88
9 41 Kurt Busch Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford 15.125 126.863
10 12 Ryan Blaney REV Ford 15.137 126.762
11 2 Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Ford 15.198 126.253
12 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Fastenal Ford 15.23 125.988
13 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's for Pros Chevrolet 15.238 125.922
14 20 Erik Jones Sport Clips Toyota 15.246 125.856
15 38 David Ragan Shriners Hospital For Children Ford 15.266 125.691
16 14 Clint Bowyer Rush Truck Centers/Cummins Ford 15.268 125.675
17 78 Martin Truex Jr. Bass Pro Shops/Ducks Unlimited Toyota 15.271 125.65
18 3 Austin Dillon Dow NORKOOL Chevrolet 15.278 125.592
19 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford 15.294 125.461
20 1 Jamie McMurray Cessna/McDonald's Chevrolet 15.301 125.404
21 19 Daniel Suarez STANLEY Toyota 15.306 125.363
22 88 Alex Bowman Valvoline Chevrolet 15.336 125.117
23 6 Trevor Bayne AdvoCare Rehydrate Ford 15.342 125.068
24 31 Ryan Newman Bass Pro Shops/Cabela's Chevrolet 15.431 124.347
25 47 AJ Allmendinger Kroger ClickList Chevrolet 15.363 124.897
26 95 Kasey Kahne Thorne Wellness Chevrolet 15.426 124.387
27 43 Bubba Wallace
Medallion Bank/Petty's Garage Chevrolet 15.435 124.315
28 37 Chris Buescher Bush's Beans Chevrolet 15.448 124.21
29 32 Matt DiBenedetto Zynga Poker Ford 15.466 124.066
30 72 Corey LaJoie ARK io Blockchain Solutions Chevrolet 15.482 123.937
31 34 Michael McDowell Love's Travel Stops Ford 15.514 123.682
32 13 Ty Dillon GEICO Chevrolet 15.567 123.261
33 96 Jesse Little Gaunt Brothers Racing Toyota 15.688 122.31
34 7 JJ Yeley Steakhouse Elite Chevrolet 15.754 121.798
35 15 Ross Chastain LowT Center Chevrolet 15.758 121.767
36 51 Reed Sorenson Trading View Chevrolet 15.822 121.274
37 66 Timmy Hill Beef Jerky Outlet Toyota 15.882 120.816
38 99 Gray Gaulding StarCom Fiber Chevrolet 15.899 120.687
39 0 Landon Cassill StarCom Fiber Chevrolet 15.936 120.407
40 23 Blake Jones KBM Commercial Properties/Planet Fitness 16.101 119.173

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