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Larson on pole after qualifying wash-out

Kyle Larson will start from pole position for the first time in a Sprint Cup race, after rain at Richmond meant that qualifying had to be cancelled.
Full Richmond starting grid and Friday practice results

Rain storms swept in over Richmond International Raceway on Friday evening and forced an early decision to cancel qualifying for the Toyota Owners 400, the ninth round of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.

Qualifying had been scheduled for 5.10pm local time, but a strong band of storms moved into the area an hour before and left the three-quarter mile oval soaked. With a packed schedule of events planned for the evening including the Nationwide Series support race, race officials decided that there was no chance of undertaking qualifying.

Instead, the starting order will be set by the times from the first practice session held earlier on Friday before the storms arrived. That means Chip Ganassi Racing rookie Kyle Larson will start from pole position on Saturday night alongside Penske's Brad Keselowski. For Larson it will be his first time taking the green flag for the race in the lead.

"We were debating before practice started to start in qualifying trim or go to race trim and do that. I wanted to start out in qualifying trim," he explained. "I wasn't sure what to expect on my lap, but we came here and tested last year for Goodyear and had a good baseline.

"I was pretty confident with going out in qualifying trim without getting used to the car yet," he continued. "Was able to lay down a fast lap and then we switched over to race trim and we were good in that too

"I think it should be a good race tomorrow," he added. "It's nice starting off from the pole. I don't know if I will count it as my first career pole, but it's still pretty cool to start on the front row."

For Keselowski, starting alongside the #42 on the front row tomorrow, it's a chance to show that the Ford runners can compete here at a track that has traditionally not been a strong circuit for them in the past.

"Richmond hasn't always been the best race track for us so we would like to get the great finish we have been capable of and just haven't put all the way together," he said. "We did some runs and felt like being in traffic would slow our car down tremendously. Starting up front hopefully we can just avoid it the entire race.

"The Penske cars have been very strong all season and I am proud of that," adding that he expected Joey Logano to be a serious challenger in the race despite starting back in 17th position. "My teammate is especially strong this weekend and I think he will be one of the guys to beat. Hopefully we can get right there with him and get a solid race and a win."

Behind Larson and Keselowski, row 2 will consist of Clint Bowyer and Kasey Kahne, with Kevin Harvick and Brian Vickers on the row behind. Larson's team mate Jamie McMurray will start from seventh place alongside Ryan Truex who gets his best Cup start to date for BK Racing on the fourth row.

Paul Menard and Jimmie Johnson round out the top ten just ahead of Marcos Ambrose and Matt Kenseth, while Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. lines up in 13th place alongside AJ Allmendinger. Previous race winners Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch and Kurt Busch start from 16th, 19th and 21st places respectively.

Because of the way that NASCAR reserves grid spots via owner points, Michael McDowell and Dave Blaney were both left unable to make their way into the race based on speed and as a result failed to qualify for the 43-car field.

Officials were still hopeful of the rain stopping and the Air Titans completing track drying activities in time to stage the Nationwide race, albeit later than originally scheduled.

Full Richmond starting grid and Friday practice results



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Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 AXE Peace Chevrolet, practices during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 25, 2014 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Axe Peace Chevrolet SS will be in pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway Saturday, April 26, 2014 in Richmond, Virginia. Qualifying was cancelled due to rain so positions are based on Friday`s first practice. Larson is 14th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo Credit: HHP/Christa L. Thomas for Chevrolet)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Hertz Ford, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for pole position for the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 15, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #51 ToyotaCare Toyota, pits during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS, who is in the Championship Four final phase of the Chase, qualified for 21st position Friday, November 14, 2014 for Sunday`s final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Newman is 3rd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings.(Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, who is in the Championship Four final phase of the Chase, qualified for 5th position Friday, November 14, 2014 for Sunday`s final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Harvick is 4th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings.(Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, who is not in the Championship Four final phase of the Chase, qualified for 2nd position Friday, November 14, 2014 for Sunday`s final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. He will be joined on the front row by Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS who won the Pole position. Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Regan Smith, driver of the #7 TaxSlayer.com Chevrolet, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 ParkerStore Chevrolet, poses with the Keystone Light Pole Award after qualifying for pole position for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Ryan Blaney on track during Nationwide practice (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Crafton drives the #88 Jeld-Wen/Menards Toyota during practice for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 13, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Ryan Blaney drives the #29 Cooper Standard Ford during practice for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 13, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota, climbs into his car in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody`s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 24, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, speaks during a press conference prior to practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 7, 2014 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Fastenal Ford, climbs out of his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 7, 2014 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 8, 2014 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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