It's hot in Northern California - especially for Kyle Larson
If you’re in Northern California this week there is no doubt, you’re hot. Especially if you’re Kyle Larson.
Saturday afternoon the Elk Grove native continued his dominance of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, impressively qualifying first at Sonoma Raceway for Sunday's Save Mart Supermarkets 350.
For Larson, the pole position is his first on a road course in his three-year Cup racing career, and it happened at the track closest to his home. The latest accomplishment takes place in a single week that saw him maintain his series point lead with a victory in Michigan last Sunday. The big win was accompanied by three dirt track victories in a single week along with his fastest speeds in Friday practice, indicating that the "California Kid" is on fire as of late..
“It feels good,” Larson said of his final qualifying lap, which secured his third pole of the season, his first at Sonoma and the fourth of his premier-series career. “This is my home track, I grew up about an hour and a half from here. So, I spent a lot of time in Napa Valley hanging out with (fellow racer) Rico Abreu and the Abreu family, so, always love coming to Sonoma. It’s a fun place and our race cars are always fast.
“I felt like I’ve had a shot at the pole every time I’ve qualified here and just haven’t gotten the job done.”
Larson posted a best lap of 95.295 mph around the 1.99-mile road course in California wine country. The series points leader’s Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet will start first in Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350.
Jamie McMurray, Larson’s Ganassi teammate, will share the front row on the starting grid after notching the second-fastest lap at 95.204 mph in the No. 1 Chevrolet. Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch and AJ Allmendinger rounded out the top five in qualifying.
Chase Elliott, who spun and later crashed his primary Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet in Friday’s practices, reversed his fortunes Saturday. He registered the fastest lap in the opening 25-minute round of qualifying, driving his backup car. Elliott will start eighth Sunday.
Clint Bowyer, a former Sonoma winner, wound up on the short end of the first round of qualifying, missing the 12-driver cut to advance to the last of two rounds of qualifying by .002 seconds. He’ll start 13th in the first of two road-course events of the season.
Find complete results and line up information at www.nascar.com or www.sonomaraceway.com
Harvick takes K&N Pro Series victory in Sonoma
After qualifying for the Monster Energy Cup Series on Saturday, the K&N Pro Series took to the twists and turns of Sonoma in the Carneos 200 which is the prelude to Sunday's much anticipated race here. In this event, Kevin Harvick made a rare series appearance to take home the victory and get plenty of track time for Sunday's event where he will be one of many trying to catch Larson.
The Bakersfield native led the most laps of the event. He held off hard-charging Rookie of the Year contender Will Rodgers, while the rest of the field was more than nine seconds back.
"It always feels good to win no matter what it is," said Harvick in victory lane. "The main objective was to come have fun, shine a little light on the series and shine a little light on how much talent is in the series. This particular series did a lot for me and to come back and be a part of it, see the health of it and see the young guys racing was the main objective.
"It's always fun to race in front of your home state fans. It's been a long time since I raced in this particular series here, so it was a fun weekend."
Rodgers, a 22-year-old from Murrieta, California, won his first Coors Light Pole Award earlier in the day and brought his No. 7 Solvang Brewing Company Ford home in second place, his best finish of his 14 K&N Pro Series West starts.
David Mayhew came home in third, followed by Michael Self and Derek Kraus in fourth and fifth, respectively.
Championship points leader Todd Gilliland, Blaine Perkins, Todd Souza, Sheldon Creed, Chris Eggleston and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup driver Daniel Suarez rounded out the top 10.
Gilliland leads Eggleston by 11 points. Kraus is third (56 behind Gilliland), while Rodgers is 12 points back of Kraus in fourth.
-Race report information provided by NASCAR Media Services