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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



Related Pictures

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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)
Darrell Wallace, Jr., driver of the #34 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductee Wendell Scott Toyota, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway on October 25, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Darrell Wallace, Jr., driver of the #34 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductee Wendell Scott Toyota, poses with the Keystone Light Pole award after qualifying for pole position for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway on October 25, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, sits in 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 25, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet SS qualified for 33rd position after hitting the wall Friday, October 24, 2014 for Sunday`s  Eliminator 8 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. Harvick, who is in the Chase, is 2nd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings.  (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS qualified for 9th position Friday, October 24, 2014 for Sunday`s  Eliminator 8 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. Newman, who is in the Chase, is 3rd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings.  (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS qualified for 13th position Friday, October 24, 2014 for Sunday`s  Eliminator 8 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. Gordon, who is in the Chase, is 7th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings.  (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 McDonald’s Chevrolet SS won the pole position and Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet SS qualified for 16th position Friday, October 24, 2014 for Sunday`s  Eliminator 8 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. McMurray, who is not in the Chase, is 19th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. This was McMurray`s 2nd Pole win this season. (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 McDonald`s Chevrolet, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for the pole for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody`s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 24, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, climbs into his car prior to qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody`s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 24, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Darrell Wallace, Jr., driver of the #34 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductee Wendell Scott Toyota, laughs before practice for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway on October 24, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Darrell Wallace, Jr., driver of the #34 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductee Wendell Scott Toyota, leads Ben Kennedy, driver of the #31 Heater.com Chevrolet, during practice for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway on October 24, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Ideal Door/Menards Toyota, looks on in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway on October 24, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
Ryan Blaney, driver of the #29 Cooper Standard Ford, looks on during practice for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway on October 24, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, sits in 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: Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, left, talks with crew chief Alan Gustafson 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: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
A view of the #34 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductee Wendell Scott Toyota, driven by Darrell Wallace, Jr., in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway on October 24, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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