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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)
Cars race after a restart lead by Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 Napa Auto Parts Chevrolet (L), Ryan Blaney, driver of the #22 Hertz Ford and Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Cartwheel by Target Chevrolet (R) during the EnjoyIllinois.com 300 race at Chicagoland Speedway on July 19, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redds Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redds Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redds Ford, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redds Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, and Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, lead the field at the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Hertz Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Sta-Green 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 12, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Hertz Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Sta-Green 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 12, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Hertz Ford, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series Sta-Green 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 12, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Hertz Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Sta-Green 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 12, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Aric Almirola (R), driver of the #43 Charter Ford, inspects his car after crashing during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 12, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Team Penske driver Brad Keselowski in the garage at Martinsville Speedway (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Erik Jones, driver of the #51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Camping World Truck Series car (Photo Credit: NASCAR)
Erik Jones, driver of the #51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Camping World Truck Series car (Photo Credit: NASCAR)
Erik Jones in action in the #51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Camping World Truck Series car (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 McDonald`s Chevrolet SS, qualifies fifth Friday, July 11, 2014 for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)

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