NASCAR Chicago Street Race starting lineup: Kyle Larson takes pole position

CHICAGO — Kyle Larson continues demonstrating why he’s considered one of the world’s most talented racing drivers.

Larson won the pole position for NASCAR’s Chicago Street Race on Saturday, nipping Ty Gibbs (grandson of three-time Super Bowl-winning head coach Joe Gibbs) by .01 second. His course record speed put him at an average of over 90 mph on the twists and turns of a circuit incorporating Michigan Ave. Du Sable Lake Shore Drive and the streets of Grant Park.

Larson, the NASCAR Cup Series points leader and the 2021 champion, recently drew attention for his attempt at the Memorial Day Weekend “Double,” which resulted in leading laps in his first Indianapolis 500.

“Really awesome to get a pole here in Chicago,” he said. “Checked the first box, so hopefully, we can keep it going.”

Most of the conversation leading into NASCAR’s second edition of the Chicago race has revolved around New Zealand native Shane van Gisbergen, who stunned the racing world by winning last year’s Chicago event in his first-ever NASCAR race.

Now a full-time driver in NASCAR’s second-tier Xfinity Series (for which van Gisbergen won the pole on Saturday), he qualified fifth for Sunday’s race and be considered a major threat again.

But drivers have said this weekend they may have closed the gap to van Gisbergen, a three-time champion in Australia’s Supercars series who is far more familiar with street course racing — a largely foreign concept for most of the NASCAR field. Michael McDowell, driving a Chicago White Sox car, qualified third. He was followed by Tyler Reddick, who is driving a Jumpman-branded car for co-owner Michael Jordan.

The Chicago Street Course race will air on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

Here’s the starting lineup:

  1. Kyle Larson
  2. Ty Gibbs
  3. Michael McDowell
  4. Tyler Reddick
  5. Shane van Gisbergen
  6. Bubba Wallace
  7. Christopher Bell
  8. Alex Bowman
  9. Daniel Suarez
  10. Brad Keselowski
  11. Denny Hamlin
  12. John Hunter Nemechek
  13. Carson Hocevar
  14. Ross Chastain
  15. Austin Dillon
  16. Chris Buescher
  17. Ryan Blaney
  18. Chase Elliott
  19. Kyle Busch
  20. Corey LaJoie
  21. Austin Cindric
  22. Chase Briscoe
  23. Justin Haley
  24. Martin Truex Jr.
  25. Erik Jones
  26. Todd Gilliland
  27. William Byron
  28. Noah Gragson
  29. Ryan Preece
  30. Zane Smith
  31. Harrison Burton
  32. Joey Logano
  33. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  34. Austin Hill
  35. Daniel Hemric
  36. Josh Berry
  37. AJ Allmendinger
  38. Joey Hand
  39. Josh Bilicki
  40. Kaz Grala

What’s the vibe like in Year 2 of NASCAR in Chicago?

Unlike last year, when torrential rain washed out much of the festivities and dampened the mood surrounding NASCAR’s inaugural street course race, ideal weather greeted fans on Saturday. The sun shone, and the ambient temperature sat in the low 70s with a nice breeze off Lake Michigan.

A near idyllic day – precisely what NASCAR envisioned when it decided to host a race in downtown Chicago. Fans seemed to enjoy themselves, with many observed smiling and excitedly walking around the circuit’s footprint, taking in the sights and sounds. All this was even before Cup cars took to the track for practice and qualifying, with both sessions delivering some excitement, including Larson delivering a blistering pole-winning lap to clip Gibbs narrowly. — Jordan Bianchi, NASCAR writer

(Photo: Meg Oliphant / Getty Images)

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