Kyle Larson, the talented 22-year-old from Elk Grove, California, won the Coors Light Pole at Pocono Raceway on Friday, becoming the first graduate of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity (D4D) initiative to win a pole in the sanctioning body’s top level. He will start first in Sunday’s GoBowling.com 400 (1 p.m. ET on ESPN, MRN Radio, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
In winning the pole, Larson set a track qualifying record with a lap of 183.438 mph (49.063 seconds).
Of Japanese-American heritage, Larson’s rapid ascent up NASCAR’s ladder is nearing a pinnacle – a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory. He has come close, finishing second at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California in March.
He has already won two races in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and once in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. His first win came in 2013 at Rockingham Speedway in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. He followed that with a NASCAR Nationwide Series victory at Auto Club Speedway in March and at Charlotte in May, both in 2014.
Larson has scored one other NASCAR national series pole in his brief career – for a NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway in March of this season.
Larson previously became the first NASCAR D4D competitor to win a NASCAR Touring Series championship. Driving for Rev Racing, Larson won the 2012 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East title and the Sunoco Rookie of the Year with two wins, eight top-five and 12 top-10 finishes in 14 starts.
In 2013, Larson became the first NASCAR D4D graduate to win the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
Larson competed under the NASCAR D4D banner in 2012. Created in 2004, the initiative has seen multiple drivers go through the program. Under the initial model, drivers competed for NASCAR approved and supported developmental teams throughout the United States. The initiative has evolved, and drivers now race for one team, Rev Racing, and have been since 2010.