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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)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redd`s Wicked Apple Ale Ford, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Aric Almirola, driver of the #43 Smithfield Ford, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Halloween Toyota, are involved in an on track incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
The crew of Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redd`s Wicked Apple Ale Ford, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redd`s Wicked Apple Ale Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Crew members work on the Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Halloween Toyota, in the garage area during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redd`s Wicked Apple Ale Ford, leads the field near the end of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redd`s Wicked Apple Ale Ford, races Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redd`s Wicked Apple Ale Ford, celebrates with an American flag after winning during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redd`s Wicked Apple Ale Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch. August 20 2014. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS qualified for 39th position Saturday, October 18, 2014 for Sunday`s Contender 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama. Harvick, who is in the Chase, is 3rd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Sunday is the final round of the Contender 12 phase of the race. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS qualified for eleventh position Saturday, October 18, 2014 for Sunday`s Contender 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama. Newman, who is in the Chase, is 4th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Sunday is the final round of the Contender 12 phase of the race. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kasey Khane, driver of the #5 Farmer’s Insurance Chevrolet SS qualified for eighth position Saturday, October 18, 2014 for Sunday`s Contender 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama. Khane, who is in the Chase, is 8th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Sunday is the final round of the Contender 12 phase of the race. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS qualified for second position Saturday, October 18, 2014 for Sunday`s Contender 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama. Johnson, who is in the Chase, is 11th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Sunday is the final round of the Contender 12 phase of the race. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Paul Menard, driver of the #27 Moen/Menards Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 18, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brian Vickers, driver of the #55 Aaron`s Dream Machine Toyota, celebrates with Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, after qualifying for the pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 18, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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