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Jun 15, 2024 4:12 pm

Kyle Larson goes last, takes pole for first Cup Series race at Iowa Speedway

Kyle Larson

NEWTON, Iowa — Kyle Larson was hoping for a rainout of Saturday’s NASCAR Cup Series qualifying session at Iowa Speedway.

His wish wasn’t granted, but in the end, it didn’t matter. Larson will start from the front of the field in Sunday’s Iowa Corn 350 Powered by Ethanol, the inaugural Cup race at Iowa Speedway (7 p.m. ET on USA, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Under the metric qualifying system, a canceled session would have put Larson, last Sunday’s winner at Sonoma Raceway, on the pole for the debut race. Instead, the driver of the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet had to earn his fourth Busch Light Pole Award of the season and the 20th of his career.

The last driver to make a qualifying run, Larson covered the 0.875-mile distance in 23.084 seconds (136.458 mph), edging Ryan Blaney (136.311 mph) for the top starting spot by 0.025 seconds.

“It was challenging, but it wasn’t as challenging as I thought it would be,” said Larson, who had the benefit of watching 35 other drivers make attempts ahead of him. “It helps going out last. It helps being able to watch everybody.

“But I was hoping for rain.”

Blaney felt he left some speed on the table during his two-lap run.

“I wish I could have picked up on the second lap a little more,” said the reigning series champion, who added that he missed Turns 3 and 4 slightly on his second circuit.

With the qualifying session delayed for 45 minutes because of track-drying efforts from a storm that blew through during lunchtime, drivers ran only one round, with the top five drivers from Group A and the top five from Group B making up the top 10 starting positions.

The Group B drivers ran second and had a clear advantage, with all of the top five starting positions going to drivers from that group. Josh Berry (135.916 mph) will start third, followed by William Byron (135.595 mph) and Brad Keselowski (135.338 mph).

Chase Briscoe led Group A at 133.046 mph and will start sixth, followed by Kyle Busch, Tyler Reddick, Chase Elliott and Christopher Bell (though Bell will drop to the rear in a backup car after crashing in Friday’s practice).

The remainder of the field is ordered by group in alternating numbers. Joey Logano, sixth in Group B, starts 11th beside Denny Hamlin, sixth-fastest in Group A.

–By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media

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