Kyle Larson ended a three-year drought by winning the pole for the NASCAR Cup Series’ Auto Club 400.
Larson won his second Cup Series pole with a speed of 187.047 mph around Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. His first pole came in the August 2013 race at Pocono Raceway.
The pole continues Larson’s impressive start to 2017. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver leads the point standings after earning three consecutive second-place finishes.
“I felt like messed up there in Turn 1 and 2 and I got a little bit loose off the wall on the entry and it got me to split the seam in (Turn) 1 and 2,” Larson told Fox Sports. “I was able to commit to (being) wide open off (Turn) 1 and 2. I hadn’t ran up high in (Turn) 3 and 4 at all in practice or qualifying here. Didn’t really know what I would have out there but ran a good ways and it stuck. … Our Target team has been really amazing to start the season and to get a pole is great. … Got a little team dinner tonight, so this will be a good thing to celebrate.”
Larson’s run knocked Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin from the top spot. As Larson drove down pit road, a Fox Sports camera caught Hamlin playfully showing his dissatisfaction by emptying a cup of ice in the direction of the No. 42.
“This is No. 1 on my list of track I want to win,” Hamlin told Fox Sports. “It’s bitten me mentally and physically … definitely one I want to check off.”
Filling out the top five is Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr and Ryan Newman.
Daniel Suarez qualified 10th for his best career Cup start.
No Hendrick Motorsports entries will start in the top 10. Kasey Kahne was the top qualifier in 12th, followed by Chase Elliott.
Five cars did not make qualifying attempts, with one of them being by choice. Jimmie Johnson’s team elected not to make an attempt following his accident in practice. He will start 37th.
Joining Johnson at the back of the field will be Joey Logano, Trevor Bayne, Matt DiBenedetto and Gray Gaulding. All of their cars did not make it through inspection in time to qualifying.
Click here for qualifying results.