BRISTOL, Tenn. (AP) — Kyle Larson won his third pole of the season as he eyes his first NASCAR Cup Series victory of the year.
Larson turned a lap at 127.792 mph Friday in qualifying at Bristol Motor Speedway. Chase Elliott was second at 127.665.
Kyle Busch was third on a track that he’s mastered throughout his career. Busch will be seeking his eighth Cup victory at Bristol in Saturday night’s race.
Larson calls this his favorite track, but he’s never won a Cup Series event here. He believes that could change Saturday night.
“We’ve been close so many times,” Larson said. “I feel like we’ve been second or third and led the most laps here so many times.”
Larson earned his first career Bristol victory later Friday night by taking the Xfinity Series race.
Larson’s chances of winning Saturday could depend on whether he can hold off Busch, who already has seven Cup victories at Bristol.
Busch has won six Cup races this year and holds a narrow lead over Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. in the season standings.
Harvick qualified sixth.
Truex didn’t make it out of the second round of qualifying and will start 17th out of 40 cars Saturday. That represents his lowest qualifying position since he started 36th on July 1 at Chicagoland, where he went on to finish fourth.
Saturday night marks the 40th anniversary of Bristol’s traditional late-summer Cup race. The threat of inclement weather has caused the starting time for Saturday’s race to move up to 6:45 p.m., an hour earlier than the originally scheduled start.