Kyle Larson soars to Busch Light Pole at Chicago

Hendrick Motorsports driver Kyle Larson soared to the Busch Light Pole Award for Sunday’s Chicago Street Race (4:30 p.m. ET, NBC).

CHICAGO — Kyle Larson made the most of his last chance in NASCAR Cup Series qualifying on Saturday, edging Ty Gibbs for the pole position for the Grant Park 165 on the Chicago Street Course (4:30 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN Radio, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, NBC Sports App).

On his final lap in the final round of time trials on the tight 2.2-mile course, Larson‘s No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet covered the distance in 87.836 seconds (90.168 mph) to outrun Gibbs (90.158 mph) by .010 seconds.

“It wasn‘t perfect,” said Larson, who ran a track-record 90.496 mph (87.518 seconds) in the opening round. “It was better than my first lap (in the final round), but I think I had better grip potential on the first lap, so I wish I could have had a couple corners back there.

“Judging by the reaction from my spotter, it had to be pretty close on lap time, so really awesome to get a pole here in Chicago… (We‘ve) checked the first box, and hopefully we can keep it going.”

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The Busch Light Pole Award was Larson‘s series-best fifth of the season and the 21st of his Cup Series career. His three victories this year, however, have come from starting positions of second, fourth and fifth.

Michael McDowell qualified third at 90.141 mph, followed by Tyler Reddick (89.923 mph) and defending Chicago Street Race winner Shane van Gisbergen (89.813 mph).

“I was trying to get my Ford Mustang on the pole,” said McDowell, who won last year‘s road race on the Indianapolis Grand Prix Course. “We were close, right? So proud of everybody. We made good changes in between Round 1 and 2 because I felt like Larson and SVG (van Gisbergen) sort of had everybody covered there.

“Then we went into that next round and made some gains and got close. You know what it means to get a pole and track position and all that. So we‘re starting up front. We‘ll have a great shot at it with the White Sox Ford Mustang.”

Bubba Wallace, Christopher Bell, Alex Bowman, Daniel Suárez and Brad Keselowski claimed starting positions six through 10, respectively, though Keselowski spun into the wall during his first final-round lap and was off the pace when he finished the lap.

Denny Hamlin, last year‘s pole winner for the Chicago Street Race, narrowly missed the final 10 and will start 11th on Sunday.

William Byron, a three-time winner this season, suffered a power steering failure in the first round, requiring a complete replacement of the steering system. Byron will start from the rear of the field on Sunday after repairs.

Harrison Burton, in his final season in the Wood Brothers No. 21 Ford, ended the first round with a spin into a tire barrier, requiring a tow truck to remove the car. Josh Berry, named earlier in the week as Burton‘s replacement next year, spun during the opening round and will start 36th in the 40-driver field.

Larson fastest in Cup Series practice

Kyle Larson topped the leaderboard in practice at 89.549 mph over Shane van Gisbergen (89.435 mph) and Ty Gibbs (89.405 mph).

Daniel Suárez (88.881 mph) and Alex Bowman (88.874 mph) rounded out the top five.

MORE: Practice results

Bubba Wallace (88.845 mph), Chase Elliott (88.843 mph), Tyler Reddick (88.771 mph), Michael McDowell (88.737 mph) and Denny Hamlin (88.697 mph) completed the top 10.

Contributing: Staff reports.