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Kyle Larson becomes the fifth defending Cup champion to win Daytona 500 pole in qualifying

Kyle Larson becomes the fifth defending Cup champion to win Daytona 500 pole in qualifying
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Kyle Larson found himself on the pole for multiple races during the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season because a qualifying algorithm determined the starting lineup instead of qualifying. By 2022, Larson has earned the right to call himself the polesitter, and he’s done it in the biggest time trial of them all.

Kyle Larson advanced to the second round of qualifying on Wednesday night and then turned in a scorcher of a lap, clocking a time of 49.68 seconds (181.159 mph) to claim the pole for the Daytona 500. Larson won the race over Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman, earning Hendrick a front-row sweep of the Daytona 500 for the eighth time in company history.

Larson has now become only the sixth driver in NASCAR Cup Series history to capture the Daytona 500 pole the year after winning the Cup championship. Cale Yarborough (1978), Jeff Gordon (1999), Dale Jarrett (2000), and Jimmie Johnson (2008) are among the drivers who have won the Daytona 500 pole the year after winning the Cup Series championship.

Daytona 500 qualifying results

1 – #5 – Kyle Larson
2 – #48 – Alex Bowman
3 – #24 – William Byron
4 – #10 – Aric Almirola
5 – #9 – Chase Elliott
6 – #19 – Martin Truex Jr.
7 – #1 – Ross Chastain
8 – #11 – Denny Hamlin
9 – #99 – Daniel Suarez
10 – #21 – Harrison Burton (R)

“It’s really neat. Any time I think you’re really proud of your team to get a pole here, because the littlest (sic) that it has to do with us drivers is qualifying at superspeedways ,” Larson told Fox Sports. “Just a huge thank you to the engine shop at Hendrick Motorsports. Everybody who’s had a part in touching these vehicles, whether it be on the computer, engineering, or just hands-on.

“It’s fantastic. The speed in our Hendrickcars.com Chevy is incredible. And I’m hoping this is the start of a fantastic weekend.”

Only Aric Almirola broke up the Fearsome Foursome and prevented a 1-2-3-4 sweep. Hendrick vehicles recorded the top three quickest speeds in qualifying and four of the top five. Martin Truex Jr., Ross Chastain, Denny Hamlin, Daniel Suarez, and Harrison Burton were among the other drivers who advanced to the second round of qualifying.

The results of Daytona 500 qualifying were also vital for two drivers competing in the race on non-chartered “Open” teams. Noah Gragson of Beard Motorsports and Jacques Villeneueve of Team Hezeberg were the two fastest cars in their class, ensuring that they would qualify for Sunday’s Daytona 500. Both will be competing in their first Daytona 500, with Gragson coming from the NASCAR Xfinity Series and Villeneuve coming from a lengthy and successful racing career that included victories in the 1995 Indianapolis 500 and the 1997 Formula One World Championship.

Kaz Grala of Floyd Mayweather’s The Money Team Racing, Greg Biffle of NY Racing, and MBM Motorsports teammates J.J. Yeley and Timmy Hill were the next fastest among the Open cars. Grala and Biffle can qualify for the Daytona 500 by placing first and second in their Bluegreen Vacations Duel race on Thursday night, or by virtue of their qualifying time if Gragson and/or Villeneuve finish first and second, respectively. Yeley and Hill can’t rely on their qualifying time to get in, so they’ll have to race their way in through the Duel.

The starting lineups for the Bluegreen Vacations Duel have been selected based on the results of time trial qualifying, with odd-numbered qualifiers in Duel 1 and even-numbered qualifiers in Duel 2. The Bluegreen Vacations Duel will take place at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday. Starting positions 3-40 for the Daytona 500 will be determined by the results of the Bluegreen Vacations Duel races.

Bluegreen Vacations Duel 1 starting lineup

1 – #5 – Kyle Larson
2 – #24 – William Byron
3 – #9 – Chase Elliott
4 – #1 – Ross Chastain
5 – #99 – Daniel Suarez
6 – #16 – Daniel Hemric
7 – #12 – Ryan Blaney
8 – #8 – Tyler Reddick
9 – #6 – Brad Keselowski
10 – #14 – Chase Briscoe
11 – #2 – Austin Cindric (R)
12 – #43 – Erik Jones
13 – #45 – Kurt Busch
14 – #31 – Justin Haley
15 – #41 – Cole Custer
16 – #38 – Todd Gilliland (R)
17 – #62 – Noah Gragson
18 – #77 – Landon Cassill
19 – #50 – Kaz Grala
20 – #78 – B.J. McLeod
21 – #55 – J.J. Yeley

Bluegreen Vacations Duel 2 starting lineup

1 – #48 – Alex Bowman
2 – #10 – Aric Almirola
3 – #19 – Martin Truex Jr.
4 – #11 – Denny Hamlin
5 – #21 – Harrison Burton (R)
6 – #22 – Joey Logano
7 – #20 – Christopher Bell
8 – #23 – Bubba Wallace
9 – #18 – Kyle Busch
10 – #3 – Austin Dillon
11 – #34 – Michael McDowell
12 – #42 – Ty Dillon
13 – #4 – Kevin Harvick
14 – #17 – Chris Buescher
15 – #7 – Corey LaJoie
16 – #47 – Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
17 – #51 – Cody Ware
18 – #27 – Jacques Villeneuve
19 – #44 – Greg Biffle
20 – #15 – David Ragan
21 – #66 – Timmy Hill

Topics #Cup champion #Daytona 500 pole #Kyle Larson

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