NASCAR 2022 Cup Series: Kyle Larson Wins Daytona 500 Pole

by TK Sanders

Defending Cup Series champ Kyle Larson gets to start this year’s Daytona 500 exactly where he left off in the 2021. Larson, 29, set the fastest time in single-car qualifying Wednesday night to claim the pole position.

Larson had to wait until nearly the very end of the time trials before getting a chance to post a time. His 49.68 second time and 181.159 mph speed just narrowly edged out Hendrick’s teammate Alex Bowman. The two drivers now guarantee themselves top spots for Sunday’s race. The rest of the field must jostle for position during Thursday’s Daytona Duels races.

Bowman won the 2021 pole with a time of 47.056 seconds at 190.261 mph in NASCAR’s previous car. The racing league debuted their newest Next Gen car at the non-points race in Los Angeles two weeks ago, but the Daytona poll marked the new car’s first appearance in a major pole.

Hendrick’s other drivers, William Byron and Chase Elliott, finished third and fifth, suggesting a real mechanical advantage going into Sunday’s big race for Hendrick drivers. Among the surprises were musical artist Pitbull’s Trackhouse Racing team putting two drivers in the top 10. His drivers, Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez, finished seventh and ninth, respectively. Last year’s Daytona 500 winner, Michael McDowell, qualified 22nd.

In a feel-good story, 1995 Indy 500 winner Jacques Villeneuve, 50, finished in 27th — the highest place for a non-chartered entry. His finish guarantees him a spot in this year’s race.

The 42 cars vying for entry will now be split into two groups that will race the Duels tonight. The results will set the 40-man field for the Daytona 500.

Kyle Busch finishes 18th in the 2022 Daytona 500 pole

Every racer in the field has much to gain from a potential win in the 500, but one racer, in particular, likely wants the victory just a little more than the rest.

After 16 starts, superstar driver Kyle Busch remains winless in the Cup’s annual season-opener. The two-time Cup Series champion has won at just about every stop on the circuit in his decade-plus career. He has even won a few smaller races, including polls and exhibitions, at the famous Speedway; just never after the all-important Daytona 500.

“When we check that box, where does it stack in regards to career accomplishments?” Busch asked himself rhetorically in an interview. “I mean, it’s going to be near the top. I don’t know if it’s as much as the championship, but it’s definitely going to be top of race wins for sure.

“It’s a big win, would love to be able to accomplish that. I don’t want to make excuses, but there’s a lot of guys that have been greats in our sport that did not win that race. So I would not like to go down as one of those guys. But we’ll work hard to make sure that doesn’t happen.”