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Rain Puts Larson On Pole In Kentucky

| , RacinToday.com Friday, July 10 2015
Kyle Larson will start from the pole in Kentucky. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Alan Marler)

Kyle Larson will start from the pole in Kentucky. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Alan Marler)

Thanks to a fast practice lap and rainy weather, Kyle Larson will start on the pole for Saturday’s Sprint Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway.

Larson ran a lap at 182.537 mph in a rain-shortened 50-minute practice session on Friday in his Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.

NASCAR opted to cancel qualifying in favor of giving Cup teams additional practice time with the low-downforce aerodynamic package introduced for the Kentucky race.

Defending race winner Brad Keselowski will start beside Larson on the front row after posting a practice lap at 181.641 mph.

Jeff Gordon, who has won a Sprint Cup race at every active track with the exception of Kentucky, will start third.

Joey Logano will start fourth, followed by Martin Truex Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Jamie McMurray and Denny Hamlin.

Kyle Busch is ninth, with last week’s Daytona race winner, Dale Earnhardt Jr., starting 10th.

NASCAR XFINITY Series qualifying also was canceled, putting JJ Yeley on the pole for Friday night’s scheduled Kentucky 300.

“Looking at all the factors and variables involved, including the fact that we are running a new rules package for the Sprint Cup Series here at Kentucky Speedway, we have determined that this schedule is in the best interests of safety and in the best interests of putting on the most competitive events that we possibly can Friday and Saturday evenings,” NASCAR spokesperson Kerry Tharp said.

Larson was happy that teams got a chance to practice with the new package, even though the session was abbreviated.

“I was glad we got a little bit of track time there,” Larson said. “We were quick off the truck, which I was really proud of my team for, just because we haven’t had any laps on this new package, unlike some other teams that have gotten to do some testing.

“So I was happy with that. We were quick in race trim off the truck, and then we went to mock qualifying trim, and we were really fast. I was able to lay down a really fast lap.”

If the rainout was good news for Larson, it was another blow for Wood Brothers Racing and driver Ryan Blaney, who was one of three competitors (along with Michael McDowell and Travis Kvapil) who failed to make the field based on a lower number of qualifying attempts this year.

Blaney was knocked out of the race by rain for the second straight week.

“The rules are the rules,” said team co-owner Eddie Wood. “In the event of a rainout, they set the field by attempts, which means how many races you’ve attempted to race this year. So us and the 95 (McDowell) have attempted less races than 43 other guys, so we’re the ones that are out, but that’s not a new rule. It’s been that way for as long as I can remember, and then they set the field by the practice speeds.

“A lot of times people get it confused with how it works, but we’ve gone a long time and not missed a race with weather. Missing races, if you’re slow and you miss a race because you’re not fast enough, is a bad deal. That just kills your soul, but you can’t do anything about the weather. We’ve been really lucky for the past seven years and haven’t missed one, but now the numbers seem to be leveling out. I’ve always heard that numbers always level out, and that’s kind of what’s going on.

“We’re going to run next week at Loudon, so we’ll head up that way and hope we don’t get rained out. I’m going to stop looking at weather apps, I tell you that. I’m done as far as that is concerned.”

| , RacinToday.com Friday, July 10 2015
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