Going out 38th about the 39 cars entered, not only did Larson knock his Hendrick Motorsports teammate and fellow title contender, Chase Elliott, from the pole – but did so emphatically.
Larson’s average lap speed of 137.847 mph was nearly a mile-and-hour faster than Elliott (136.939 mph) – extraordinary on a 1-mile oval like Phoenix Raceway.
“I was a little bit edgy into (Turn) 1. I got off (Turn) 2 really good and I got into (Turn) 3 as hard as I thought that I could,” Larson said. “I was blind – I’m sure all of us were – and probably carried a little bit too much speed and was a little loose off (Turn) 4.
“It’s really cool. A great start to the weekend. It will help with pit stall selection and we’ve been off to a good start on execution and hope to keep that going.”
Asked what the pole means for the race, Larson said: “I don’t know if it’s a championship-winning moment but either way, it’s great to get off to a good start. Hopefully, we can do a good job in the race and keep up with the track.”
The pole is the 10th is Larson’s Cup career and second this season. NASCAR only held qualifying sessions at seven events this season.
Larson won a series-leading nine races this season and was the first driver to lock himself into the Championship 4 thanks to wins at Texas and Kansas in the semifinal round.
Hendrick swept the top three starting positions in the race as William Byron (136.846 mph) ended up third.
Ryan Blaney (136.804 mph) was fourth and Kurt Busch (136.742 mph) rounded out the top-five.
The other two Championship 4 contenders – Denny Hamlin (136.565 mph) and Martin Truex Jr. (135.880 mph) – will line up sixth and 12th, respectively.
Prior to qualifying, the cars of Larson, Truex and Hamlin all failed inspection twice and each had their respective car chiefs ejected for the remainder of the weekend.
Elliott’s No. 9 Chevrolet passed on the first try.