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08/01 16:55 CDT Larson wins 1st career pole at Pocono Raceway
Larson wins 1st career pole at Pocono Raceway
AP Sports Writer
LONG POND, Pa. (AP) --- Kyle Larson had one more celebration left during his
birthday week, setting a track record of 183.438 mph to win his first career
Sprint Cup pole Friday at Pocono Raceway.
He broke the mark of 181.415 that Denny Hamlin set in June.
Larson, one of the top rookies in NASCAR, turned 22 on Thursday and wants to
keep the party going with his first win Sunday. Larson could use a victory to
secure a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, though he would
make the 16-car field as it stands on points.
"I really think a win is coming soon, maybe before the Chase starts," Larson
Joey Logano joined Larson on the front row. Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch and
Jeff Gordon completed the top five. Gordon followed his fifth Brickyard 400 win
with another strong qualifying run.
Logano topped the first two rounds of qualifying and held the top spot until
Larson bumped him in the third.
"I knew we had a shot at the pole after the second round," Larson said. "I was
nervous and I hit all three corners about as good as I could, so I was really
excited about that."
Keselowski is pulling double duty this weekend and will also drive in the
Nationwide Series race at Iowa Speedway. Larson also has a doubleheader with a
ride in Saturday's Truck Series race at Pocono.
Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Jamie McMurray, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Danica
Patrick completed the top 10.
Larson started first this year at Richmond after rain wiped out qualifying and
he took the top spot because of his practice time. But it did not count as an
Larson took this one in No. 42 Chevrolet moments before the skies opened at
Pocono, and the threat of rain looms large for Sunday's race.
"We've been really fast the last few months, just maybe finding better luck
now," Larson said.
He qualified for next year's Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway
and became NASCAR's first Drive for Diversity graduate to win a Cup pole.
Larson's mother is Japanese and his father is of Native American descent.
Larson shared a birthday party Thursday with his manager's 6-year-old daughter.
Larson joked the girl was mad at him because he got his girlfriend pregnant,
"and she thought she was my girlfriend."
Larson made it up to the girl with a dozen roses and candy.
Larson's speed was the 15th track qualifying record set in 2014. Logano posted
his 17th top-10 start and his Team Penske teammate Keselowski has 16 top-10
starts in 21 races this season.
"We push them to be better the first round," Logano said. "They push us to be
better as we go into the third round. I'm getting better. We're able to see
what we do differently, which helps us because one is good in one area and one
is good in the other, so we can see both of that."