Kyle Larson drove his No. 42 Credit One Bank Camaro ZL1 to a front row starting spot in today’s knockout-style qualifying session for Sunday’s TicketGuardian 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at ISM Raceway. Larson turned a lap of 136.643 mph, 26.346 seconds to capture his fifth top five start at the one-mile, tri-oval track.
“Our Credit One Bank Chevy has been really good here the last few years and actually, I’m a little disappointed in second because I always qualify good here,” said Larson. “I think I’ve been like in the top eight every single time I’ve qualified at Phoenix and still don’t have a pole yet. I thought today was going to be the day.”
Hendrick Motorsports teammates Chase Elliott, behind the wheel of his No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Camaro ZL1 and Alex Bowman, driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Camaro ZL1 followed right behind Larson to qualify third and fourth, respectively, giving Chevrolet three of the top five in the starting order.
Larson’s Chip Ganassi teammate, Jamie McMurray, qualified his No. 1 McDonald’s Camaro ZL1 in the eighth position. Rookie of the year contender William Byron, will start his No. 24 Axalta Camaro ZL1 in 11th place.
Martin Truex, Jr. (Toyota) was the pole winner and Joey Logano (Ford) qualified fifth to round out the top five qualifiers.
The 312-lap TicketGuardian 500 will take the green flag on Sunday at 3:30 p.m., ET and can be seen live on FoxSports1, MRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.
POST QUALIFYING PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT:
KYLE LARSON, NO. 42 CREDIT ONE BACK CAMARO ZL1 – Qualified 2nd
TAKE US THROUGH YOUR LAP OUT THERE:
“Our qualifying was good. It was a little bit different compared to year’s past with us qualifying about an hour and a half earlier today, which was nice we didn’t have the sun in our face down the front stretch. But, the track was a lot slicker it seemed, especially that first round. We had to adjust on our car a little bit and adjust your driving style more compared to normal, which was fun to do. But, yeah, it would have been nice to get the pole. I think this is probably by far my best track when it comes to qualifying. I still don’t have a pole, but I’m trying to think… I don’t think I’ve ever qualified worse than eighth here my four previous seasons. Like I said, it would have been nice to get the pole and get that done. We will have a good car come Sunday and hopefully, be in Victory Lane where it really matters.
DID YOU FEEL LIKE (MARTIN) TRUEX’S LAP CAME OUT OF NOWHERE PRETTY MUCH?
“I suppose, I guess a little bit. Anybody really in the top, I feel like at most tracks you go to, top six or seven kind of have a shot at the pole when it comes to the final round. You’ve just got to put your lap together. Everybody is so close in lap time; a little flinch can be half a tenth. I don’t think it came out of nowhere, but I thought it would kind of be me, Chase (Elliott) or (Alex) Bowman to get the pole, but yeah, obviously, the No. 78 got it, so. But you know they are a great team, so I guess you can’t ever be surprised by it.”
ARE YOU WORRIED AT ALL ABOUT FANS BEING ABLE TO REPORT THINGS ON SOCIAL MEDIA?
“Social media is a part of life, we all have to accept it, I guess. Yeah, I mean it sucks that fans can point stuff in because it seems like with golf it seems like lately the last few years a lot of fans turn in… they slow-mo their own broadcasts and show them that a player maybe moved his ball in the wrong spot or whatever and they get penalized some strokes which ends up hurting them in a big tournament or something. Yeah, I mean, it kind of stinks that fans can do that, but social media has hurt a lot of things, so I guess we all just have to live with social media.”
HAVE YOU HAD TIME THIS WEEKEND TO THINK ABOUT HOW YOU ARE GOING TO ATTACK THE NEW RESTART ZONE IN THE FALL?
“We are still restarting over here (points) so I’m more worried about the restarts through that corner right now, but no, I mean, myself and (Denny) Hamlin and (Ricky) Stenhouse were kind of talking about it a little bit on the drive here this morning. We all just think it’s going to be pretty exciting, honestly. I think you know it will be interesting to see. I feel like if you get a good launch you could just, if you are on the inside lane, you could just hang a hard left at the flag stand and shortcut that little radius and be to their inside in (Turns) 3 and 4. You never know how it might work, but I think it’s going to be interesting and exciting for sure with the restart zone being at that end now or later this year.”
IS IT MORE DIFFICULT TO SET-UP THE NEW CAMARO THAN LAST YEAR’S CAR?
“I hold the steering wheel. I don’t worry about set-ups. But, talking to my team, I know the Hendrick (Motorsports) guys have kind of been complaining about it a little bit, but our team seems to be just as fast as we were last year. I don’t think there is anything different on our end. It doesn’t drive one bit different to me than it did last year.”
SO, YOU HAVE NO DIFFERENT FEELING?
“It does not have a different feeling. It’s the same chassis, same components, the body is just different.”
DO YOU FEEL LIKE GANASSI HASN’T STRUGGLED THE WAY THE HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS CARS HAVE BECAUSE OF THE CHANGE BECAUSE YOU ONLY HAVE TWO PEOPLE THEY HAVE FOUR AND THEY HAVE NEW TEAM MEMBERS OVER THERE?
“Yeah, I think being a two-car team kind of helps in a lot of aspects. I don’t know how their whole shop or two shops operate, so it’s kind of hard to judge from the outside looking in. From our team, it sounds like only having two cars when we design something it’s easier to get it to each of our cars, where it’s a four-car team it seems to take a little bit longer maybe to get new things put on racecars. But then there are also some disadvantages you know of not having four cars and stuff like that. I like being on a two-car team and I think our team has done a really good job at doing their homework over the past few seasons on the previous car and our current car. Yeah, I don’t know how they operate at Hendrick. I just know our team does a really good job at our place.”
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