NASCAR at Sonoma 2017 Qualifying Results: Kyle Larson Takes Pole

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistJune 24, 2017

SONOMA, CA - JUNE 24:  Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, and his son, Owen, pose with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 24, 2017 in Sonoma, California.  (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)
Sarah Crabill/Getty Images

NASCAR made its annual pilgrimage to Sonoma Raceway for this weekend's Toyota/Save Mart 350, with Kyle Larson winning the pole during Saturday's qualifying session. 

It's Larson's first career pole at Sonoma. He took home the top spot in qualifying with a lap speed of 95.295 mph, just ahead of fellow Chevrolet driver Jamie McMurray (95.204 mph). 

This is one of five road races on the NASCAR schedule each year, and Sonoma Raceway is the shortest track in that group at 1.99 miles. 

Friday's final practice session was marred by crashes involving Chase Elliott and Erik Jones, forcing both drivers into their backup cars on race day. 

2017 NASCAR at Sonoma Starting Grid

Row 1: Kyle Larson (Pole Winner), Jamie McMurray

Row 2: Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch

Row 3: AJ Allmendinger, Danica Patrick

Row 4: Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott

Row 5: Chris Buescher, Dale Earnhardt Jr. 

Row 6: Daniel Suarez, Kevin Harvick

Row 7: Clint Bowyer, Denny Hamlin

Row 8: Paul Menard, Michael McDowell

Row 9: Kurt Busch, Joey Logano

Row 10: Austin Dillon, Ryan Newman

Row 11: Kasey Kahne, Rickey Stenhouse Jr. 

Row 12: Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson

Row 13: Trevor Bayne, Billy Johnson

Row 14: Matt DiBenedetto, David Ragan

Row 15: Cole Whitt, Erik Jones

Row 16: Landon Cassill, Alon Day

Row 17: Josh Bilicki, Boris Said

Row 18: Ty Dillon, Kevin O'Connell

Row 19: Tommy Regan, Matt Kenseth

Larson, who enters Sunday's race leading the standings with 640 points, got off to a slow start in the first round of qualifying when he came in ninth place. He had no problems putting that behind him during the final session as he seeks his third win of the season. 

"This is cool to get a pole on my home track in my home state," Larson said on the FS1 broadcast, via Fox Sports' Tom Jensen

The No. 42 car was looking up at Elliott in the first round of qualifying. Elliott showed no problems adapting to his backup car, controlling the pace early in qualifying and setting himself up for a big weekend in the process. 

Elliott was unable to keep up the pace, though he will still be starting eighth and within shouting distance of Larson and McMurray in the front row. 

Also making noise during qualifying was Danica Patrick, who posted the sixth-fastest speed at 94.773 mph. She's had a difficult time breaking through in 2017 with just one top-10 finish in 15 races, so this was a huge positive step for the No. 10 car. 

ESPN's Bob Pockrass also noted this was the third-best qualifying position of her NASCAR career:

In her previous four appearances at this event, Patrick hasn't finished higher than 18th. She knows road courses very well from her days on the IndyCar circuit, so Saturday's qualifying result could be the beginning of a big weekend for her team. 

Rounding out the top 10 in qualifying was Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is looking to build off his ninth-place finish at Michigan last week. 

This has been a difficult season so far for Earnhardt, who is working his way back into form after the concussion problems from 2016. He's already announced his retirement following the 2017 season and sits 23rd in the points standings coming into this event, which he's never won in his storied career. 

All eyes will be focused on Larson, though, who continues to be NASCAR's shining star in 2017. This marks his second consecutive pole and he's going after his second consecutive race victory while also trying to increase his lead in the standings over Martin Truex Jr. in the process.