NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Larson is taking over the circuit as he did in 2021.
Last Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Larson placed second in Hendrick Motorsports’ 1-2-3 finish. Friday at Phoenix Raceway, Larson topped the field during an extended 50-minute practice session to help the teams prepare for the debut of the new aerodynamic package for shorter tracks and road courses.
The No. 5 Chevrolet team continued to look as dominant as it did two seasons ago when Larson claimed the points championship. Larson claimed the pole for Sunday’s United Rentals Work United 500 at the one-mile desert track. He turned a hot lap of 130.237 mph, edging Denny Hamlin, who will start on the outside of the front row, by 0.065 seconds.
Larson also started on the pole for the 2021 Championship 4 race at Phoenix.
“It means a lot,” Larson said, as reported by NASCAR.com. “Qualifying is really important here. We got the pole in 2021 and that really helped us win the championship race.”
The second row will feature William Byron, who captured the checkered flag last Sunday, on the inside and Brad Keselowski on the outside.
Hendrick Motorsports qualified two of the top three drivers but could face issues with the sanctioning body. NASCAR rules officials collected the hood louvers of all four teams, including Alex Bowman and Josh Berry. No pre-race penalties were issued. The equipment reportedly was sent back to the NASCAR Research & Development Center in North Carolina for examination.
During a pre-qualifying inspection, Kaulig Racing also had a louver confiscated by rules officials on Justin Haley’s machine.
Definitely happier with the speed we showed today! Hopefully that trend continues tomorrow. @rheemracing @ToyotaRacing Camry TRD starting p5. #TeamToyota pic.twitter.com/OtPNQCo4aZ
— Christopher Bell (@CBellRacing) March 11, 2023
Christopher Bell Praises NASCAR’s New Aero Rules Package
Christopher Bell gives his thumbs up.
The Cup Series’ new aerodynamic package is something Bell, a short-track dirt racer, is growing to appreciate. The new rules are expected to provide a 30 percent reduction in downforce on the Next Gen machines.
While Bell’s No. 20 Toyota placed 24th in Friday’s practice (128.977 mph), the Joe Gibbs Racing team made adjustments, resulting in a fifth-place qualifying run Saturday.
“I don’t know if I’m biased towards it because I really like it, but I made passes in practice that I know that I absolutely wouldn’t have with the old package,” Bell told NASCAR.com. “I don’t know. I’m happy. I hope the other drivers feel the same way.
“I felt like I could pass a little easier and I felt like I could maintain my position easier when I was following guys, but we will know more on Sunday.”