Kyle Larson beats Denny Hamlin to Phoenix Cup pole

Kyle Larson beats Denny Hamlin to Phoenix Cup pole

Larson, who was fastest in Friday’s practice session at Phoenix Raceway, followed that up with a perfect qualifying performance on Saturday.

Larson’s No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet was fastest in his Round 1 qualifying group and as the last car out in the final round, his lap of 130.237 mph eclipsed Denny Hamlin to claim the pole for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race.

The pole is the first of the 2023 season for Larson and 15th of his career.

“It’s definitely a blast,” Larson said when asked how fun it is to drive a car like he has this weekend. “A huge thank you to everybody at Hendrick Motorsports and especially this No. 5 car for getting a new aero package thrown at them and doing their homework.

“I was super-happy about yesterday. I thought my car handled good and had a lot of speed in it and it translated into qualifying today.

“It’s a tough race, though, tomorrow. These Next Gen races are really, really hard to win. It would be nice to get a little redemption on last week but we’re off to a good start (this season). That’s all you can ask for.”

Hamlin, among the first to go out in the final round, ended up second (129.931 mph) and last weekend’s winner, William Byron, was third (129.922 mph). Brad Keselowski and Christopher Bell rounded out the top-five.

Completing the top-10 starting lineup are Ross Chastain, Michael McDowell, Ryan Blaney, Kyle Busch and Erik Jones.

Sunday’s race will be the first since NASCAR announced new aero rules this season for road courses and a majority of tracks measuring 1.058-mile or less in distance, including Phoenix.

The package, which was tested in the offseason at Phoenix, consists of a 2-inch spoiler and the removal of three diffuser strakes and engine panel strakes. The changes were expected to lead to a 30-percent reduction in downforce.

Read Also:

Round 1 / Group B

Larson, who was fastest in Friday’s practice session, led the way in Group B with an average lap speed of 131.752 mph.

Busch ended up second-fastest (130.326 mph) and Bell was third (130.284 mph).

Also advancing to the final round from Group B were Blaney and Chastain.

Among those who failed to advance were Daniel Suarez, Joey Logano and last year’s spring race winner Chase Briscoe.

Round 1 / Group A

Byron, the last driver to make a qualifying attempt in Group A, went straight to the top of the leaderboard with an average lap speed of 130.657 mph.

Jones ended up second-fastest…

Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at – NASCAR – Stories…