By David Morgan, Associate Editor
INDIANAPOLIS – AJ Allmendinger had already laid down a flying lap to put his No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet on the top of the board, but in the final seconds of qualifying, he had one final challenger to wait out – Austin Cindric.
The defending NASCAR Xfinity Series champion crossed the line with less than 30 seconds remaining in qualifying, determined to unseat Allmendinger from the pole, but in the end, it wouldn’t be enough as Allmendinger’s strong lap of 1 minute, 29.831 seconds was enough to keep Cindric at bay and earn him the pole.
“It’s pretty awesome to be on the pole for Indy,” Allmendinger said. “It really doesn’t mean much, but when you’re on the pole at the Brickyard here, leading the field to green, it’s pretty awesome.
“Thanks to everybody at Kaulig Racing. It’s just the beginning. There’s a bigger prize at the end, but we’ll take these little wins.”
Allmendinger’s Kaulig Racing teammate, Justin Haley, will start third, followed by Justin Allgaier, and Ty Gibbs, who was the fastest in the first round of qualifying.
Riley Herbst will roll off sixth, with Noah Gragson, Myatt Snider, Will Rodgers, and Preston Pardus rounding out the top-10 starters.
NASCAR Cup Series regulars Kevin Harvick and Austin Dillon were already scheduled to run in the Xfinity race, but Saturday morning, Chase Elliott was a last minute addition as a substitute in the No. 5 JR Motorsports Chevrolet for Michael Annett, who is still recovering from a recent leg surgery.
Harvick was the best of that trio, timing in 16th, with Dillon to start 19th, and Elliott in 25th.
With 44 cars entered for just 36 spots, eight cars won’t be racing on Saturday afternoon, as Mike Skeen, Matt Jaskol, Bayley Currey, Stephen Leicht, Ryan Eversley, Loris Hezemans, Giorgio Maggi, and Gray Gaulding all DNQ’d.
The 62 lap Pennzoil 150 is scheduled for 4:00 pm on NBC Sports Network, immediately following the running of the NTT IndyCar Series Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix.