JULY 6, 2024

Larson Tops Final Round of Qualifying to Claim Pole Positionat Chicago
·       After turning the fastest lap overall in the NASCAR Cup Series’ practice session, Hendrick Motorsports’ Kyle Larson edged out Ty Gibbs on his final lap of qualifying to claim the pole position for tomorrow’s Grant Park 165 at the Chicago Street Course. 
·       Larson’s pole – his fifth this season and 21st all-time in NASCAR’s top division – came at a lap time of 87.836 seconds, at 90.168 mph, in his No. 5 Valvoline Camaro ZL1 to edge out second-place Gibbs by a mere 0.010 second margin. 
·       The pole win marks Chevrolet’s seventh pole of the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season; and the manufacturer’s series-leading 750th all-time pole award in NASCAR’s premier series. 
·       Larson led Chevrolet to four top-10 qualifying efforts in advance of tomorrow’s 75-lap event including last year’s Chicago Street Race winner Shane van Gisbergen in fifth; Larson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman in eighth; and Trackhouse Racing’s Daniel Suarez in ninth. 
·       Pulling double-duty for the Chicago Street Race weekend, Larson also drove the No. 17 Camaro SS to a front-row starting spot for this afternoon’s NASCAR Xfinity Race at the 12-turn, 2.2-mile street course. 
·       NBC will broadcast the NASCAR Cup Series Grant Park 165 at the Chicago Street Course on Sunday, July 7, at 4:30 p.m. ET. Live coverage can also be found on MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.
 TEAM CHEVY UNOFFICIAL TOP-10 STARTING LINEUP:  POS.   DRIVER1st      Kyle Larson, No. 5 Valvoline Camaro ZL15th      Shane van Gisbergen, No. 16 Wendy’s Saucy Nuggs Camaro ZL18th      Alex Bowman, No. 48 Ally Camaro ZL19th      Daniel Suarez, No. 99 Jockey x Folds of Honor Camaro ZL1
Kyle Larson, No. 5 Valvoline Camaro ZL1 – Pole Win Media Availability Quotes Does it feel like you’re in as good of a rhythm as it looks like you are? “I feel more in rhythm in the Cup car, for sure. I think it just has a more equal balance throughout most of the corners. The Xfinity car, it just has smaller tires and stuff, so there’s just less grip. A little more on edge in that, but yeah, two good racecars, so far. Hopefully we’ll have a good race this afternoon. Obviously the main objective is just to learn more about the track; more about where you can pass and making moves that maybe I wasn’t able to make last year. Yeah, so far so good.. just still a lot left to do.” 
Broadcast was talking a lot about the bumps. Is it bumpier than last year, or is it just standing out more for some reason? “No, it doesn’t feel any different to me than last year. It’s really rough when you’re coming around (turn) three; the break into four and kind of like between four and five and exiting five. Nowhere else, really, is that crazy bumpy.. maybe a little bit into 11. But my car seems to handle the bumps a little bit better this year than it did last year. Last year, I remember just being kind of like really, really bouncy. But this year, yeah – we seem to handle that a little bit better, which gives you some confidence to attack those areas.  I still feel like – and I’m sure a majority of us, maybe not SVG, but I feel like the majority of us have not quite found the max through four and five because it’s so bumpy and you feel like you’re hauling ass through there. By the time you get through the corner, you’re like – oh, I’m going too slow. It’s just a tough section.” 
You mentioned finding the max; finding the different lines to run, the braking zones. Did you try to learn from anyone on-track, whether it be SVG, McDowell?“Not today. I mean we’ve all obviously studied SMT of SVG, but I didn’t spend like hours. No different, really, than normal.. just kind of briefly looked at SMT compared to myself. And usually it’s just whatever team Cliff has for me. So yeah, just kind of look at a little bit of that. It was harder to study last year’s stuff because the track wasn’t like this, as far as there were some damp spots and things like that last year in the race. Hard to fully study, but there were definitely some things worth looking at. Obviously today, I had time to look at some SMT after my runs and stuff. It helps running Xfinity, as well, because I get more time to compare lines and stuff.”  
It’s your fifth NASCAR Cup Series pole this season. Is there something that you and Cliff (Daniels) do when you setup the car in qualifying trim that just makes you good, week in and week out, when you go out and lay down a fast lap?“I don’t know.. I think just probably the notebook. I think of now, we’re three years into this Next Gen car, so you hope to get better every time. I’m sure you’re getting every little detail more fine-tuned. Yeah, this year in qualifying – really racing too – has been a strong suit. But qualifying, we’ve been able to execute and get five poles to this point. That’s special. Hopefully we can keep that up and keep our speed up in races, as well.” 
Given that it’s such tight corners, you’re on edge. Is there extra pride as a driver to perform well at tracks like this compared to the standard oval? “Any road course, I think you feel like the driver means a little bit more. But I don’t feel like I’m any better of a road racer one year later. I think my team is just, like I just mentioned, it’s their second year here. They studied their notes from last year and made our car a lot better in the areas that I needed help. So I think that’s what makes me really proud, too. We have a team that’s capable of doing that. I feel like last year, in qualifying especially, the Gibbs’ cars were – gosh, I was like a second off the pace. I mean I still made the final round, but I was like close to a second off the pace. This year, I know we barely beat Ty (Gibbs), but I feel like compared to Martin (Truex Jr.), Denny (Hamlin) and (Tyler) Reddick.. guys like that, I feel like we’re now not quite a bit better, but better than we were last year. I’m mostly, for this weekend, proud of that and our team.” 
Some poles, you might say are more important than others. But on the street race, how big is that? Also, you’re starting two rows ahead of SVG..“Yeah, I mean sure, that helps. But he’ll (SVG) probably be up there right away. We keep talking about him a lot, but everyone in the Cup Series is really good, so you can’t focus too much on him.  Yeah, track position is really important, no doubt. It is at an oval, as well, that you run 30-second laps times on. Here, I think it’s important, but I think with stages and stuff like that, it honestly can mean a little bit less just because you’re always going to find yourself in traffic at some point, I feel like, with road course racing and stages. People flip the stages or whatever. Like Sonoma, for instance, like we had to restart towards the back. We just had a really good car and were able to drive to the front. We qualified good there, as well. So I mean, yes, it helps. But you also have to have a good racecar and execute good restarts to pickoff spots quickly.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.