CUP: Pit Penalty For Kurt Busch Gives Larson All-Star Pole

Jacob Seelman Cup, Featured 0 Comments

Kyle Larson celebrates with the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race Pole Award on Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. (NASCAR photo)

CONCORD, N.C. — Kyle Larson picked up four-tenths of a second in the final round of Coors Light Pole Qualifying at Charlotte Motor Speedway to win the pole for Saturday’s Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race.

The three-lap cumulative time format, with an added pit stop during lap two, is a tradition of the All-Star weekend and saw Larson post a total time of 1:52.626 (143.839 mph) in his No. 42 Target Chevrolet.

En route to winning his first All-Star pole, Larson was the first of the final five drivers to take time, and the fastest of the three drivers who completed their second qualifying run without penalty.

“I decided I might not change, because if I ended up second you guys would probably want an interview,” he joked with FOX Sports’ Jamie Little after qualifying. “That’s pretty cool, to win the pole for this deal. It’s my first time doing this. It’s nice that we had a second round there to get a second tenth out of that. I picked up some time there.”

“This qualifying session was all about not making mistakes. Everybody but us made mistakes in that last round,” Larson added. “I’m proud of everybody on this Target Chevy team, especially our pit crew. Our pit crew saved me in that first round to get us into this second round. And getting the (All-Star) pole is pretty sweet. It’s so much fun. I’ve been wanting to do that. It’s my fourth season in Cup now and I have wanted to do it every year.”

Three-time All-Star Race polesitter Kyle Busch was only a hundredth of a second off Larson’s cumulative time (1:52.636/143.826) and will start second.

“I thought our lap was really good,” Busch said. “We had speed in our race car. I wish we were a little bit better for a starting position, but we’ll be (rolling off) top five, so we’ll take it.”

Kevin Harvick was third-fastest (1:52.889/143.504) in the final round, but his pit crew posted the fastest stop of the day (13.279 seconds) in round one to garner the 2014 champion the Pit Crew Challenge Award.

Four-time All-Star Race winner and seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson will start fourth after receiving a five-second penalty for crew members going over the wall too soon.

Kurt Busch was actually the fastest driver in the final round of qualifying, but two loose lug nuts on his pit stop meant that he incurred a 10-second penalty and ended up with the slowest cumulative time of the five. He will start fifth on Saturday night.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. posted a three-lap average speed of 143.136 mph, but came a tenth of a second short of cracking the cut line in his No. 88 Axalta/Maaco Chevrolet and will start his final All-Star Race from sixth.

“I don’t know if I got everything out of it or not; it’s hard to say,” Earnhardt admitted after his run. “I feel like I missed it a little bit on the track, but the guys did a good job on the stop. This deal is about a lot of different factors, and we just came up a touch short. We’ve got a good race car for tomorrow, though, and we’ll try to win one more of these things when the lights come on.”

Brad Keselowski, Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin and Jamie McMurray completed the top 10.

Joey Logano ended up 12th after sliding two pit boxes beyond his crew on entry to the stop during lap 2, while Martin Truex Jr. was relegated to 14th due to a five-second penalty for a loose lug nut.

The most spectacular run went to Ryan Newman, however, who endured a full-drift slide through Turns 3 and 4 but managed to save his No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet without hitting the wall or the infield grass.

Newman ultimately timed in 15th of the 16 locked-in drivers.

Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race XXXIII goes green at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday night, live on FOX Sports 1.

Full qualifying results can be viewed on the next page…

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