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.
.@KyleLarsonRacin wheels his way to the #CoorsLightPole at @RaceSonoma! https://t.co/YHzEm7fLD42017-6-24 19:38:01
"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.
Kelley Blue Book @KelleyBlueBook
There's fast, and then there's @chaseelliott fast. Way to come back strong! https://t.co/03t4Y3Apws2017-6-24 19:03:09
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:
Bob Pockrass @bobpockrass
Danica Patrick starting 6th. It is third-best of her career. Daytona 500 pole in 2013, fourth at Charlotte for 600 in 2014. #nascar2017-6-24 19:47:48
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.