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Kyle Larson Makes Late Charge to Win Grant Park 165 Pole at Chicago

It came down to the wire, but Kyle Larson defeated Ty Gibbs to win the pole for Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series Grant Park 165 at the Chicago Street Course.


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Throughout all of the on-track activity Saturday in the NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series at the Chicago Street Course, Kyle Larson has been within reach of defending race-winner Shane Van Gisbergen.

Now, following the conclusion of qualifying for Sunday’s Grant Park 165, the Hendrick Motorsports driver is showing himself as a legitimate contender to defeat the three-time Supercars champion in both events this weekend.

Larson, driving the No. 5 Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro, posted a quick lap of 87.836 seconds (which equates to 90.168mph) in Saturday’s group qualifying session, earning the Elk Grove, California-native the 21st NASCAR Cup Series pole of his career.

It’s the fifth pole of 2024 for driver No. 5, the most he’s ever had in a NASCAR Cup Series campaign.

Ty Gibbs, also running double-duty between the Cup and Xfinity Series this weekend, will start alongside Larson in Friday’s event. Gibbs is in search of his first NASCAR Cup Series victory, driving the No. 54 Toyota Camry XSE for Joe Gibbs Racing.

A pair of strong road racers, Michael McDowell and Tyler Reddick, will start on the second row in Sunday’s event, while Shane van Gisbergen was only able to muster a fifth-place qualifying run in the No. 16 Chevrolet for Kaulig Racing.

Bubba Wallace will start Sunday’s race from sixth, while Christopher Bell, Alex Bowman, Daniel Suarez, and Brad Keselowski will round out the top-10 in the starting order, via their advancement to the second round of time trials.

Denny Hamlin just missed out on advancing to the final qualifying round via Group B and will start from 11th, with fellow Toyota-supported driver John Hunter Nemechek qualifying 12th for LEGACY MOTOR CLUB, the organization’s second top-12 qualifying result of 2024.

Carson Hocevar was the best of the four NASCAR Cup Series rookies in Saturday’s qualifying session, placing his Spire Motorsports Chevrolet 13th on the grid for Sunday’s Grant Park 165.

Other notable drivers that failed to advance to the final round of qualifying on Saturday include Ross Chastain (14th), Chris Buescher (16th), Ryan Blaney (17th), Chase Elliott (18th), Kyle Busch (19th), Austin Cindric (21st), Chase Briscoe (22nd), Martin Truex, Jr. (24th), William Byron (27th), Joey Logano (32nd) and Josh Berry (36th).

Returning to the NASCAR Cup Series behind the wheel of a third Kaulig Racing entry, AJ Allmendinger had a difficult qualifying session in the No. 13 Benesch Chevrolet Camaro, and will start a puzzling 37th in Sunday’s second-ever race on the streets of Chicago.

Saturday’s group qualifying session featured a trio of issues throughout its multi-round, multi-group format, impacting drivers Corey LaJoie, Harrison Burton, and Brad Keselowski.

Keselowski (No. 6) will still be credited with a 10th-place starting spot for Sunday’s event, after making contact in Turn 11 and damaging his Elk Grove Village Ford Mustang Dark Horse in the final round of qualifying.

LaJoie (No. 7) ran into issues during Group A of Round 1 in NASCAR Cup Series qualifying, smacking the outside wall also in Turn 11. The damage to the No. 7 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet was quite severe, especially on the left-rear corner, but the team may attempt to fix it prior to Sunday’s event.

Finally, Harrison Burton was trying to improve his starting spot in the final seconds of Group B of qualifying, crashing into the tire barriers and damaging his No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford. Josh Berry and Chris Buescher also sustained damage with minor issues in their respective qualifying runs, but neither should require extensive repairs or moving to a backup car.

Josh Bilicki, driving the No. 66 Ford for MBM Motorsports, will start from 39th, after being the only driver to not post a time in qualifying. However, that was NASCAR-mandated, after the entry failed pre-qualifying inspection three times. Bilicki will also need to do a pass-through on the race’s first lap.

Photo: Tyson Gifford, TobyChristie.com

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