By David Morgan, Associate Editor
TALLADEGA, Ala. – A pair of Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas will lead the field to the green in Sunday’s GEICO 500 at Talladega after flexing their muscles in qualifying on the 2.66-mile superspeedway.
Christopher Bell led the way with a lap of 52.927 seconds (180.928 mph) to clinch his second career NASCAR Cup Series pole, edging out teammate Martin Truex Jr by .081 seconds.
“There is not much to say about the lap, just a lot to say about Toyota, TRD, the engine package they brought here, and the cars assembled at JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing),” Bell said. “This number 20 group did a really good job. They gave me the best car in the field today, so hopefully we can keep it going and keep it up front tomorrow.”
The two JGR drivers were fastest in the first round of qualifying and backed it up in the second round, improving on their first round speed to take over the front row.
Truex noted that speed in qualifying is no guarantee for speed in the race, but starting up front will be a big confidence boost for all involved at Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota.
“It’s always important to have speed here,” Truex said. “You want to be fast. As long as our cars handle good and do all the things we need to in the draft, then speed is good. It makes your job a little bit easier when you have speed and hopefully that will help us tomorrow.
“No guarantees, obviously. It guarantees nothing but a good starting spot and a fast race car. Good job by everybody. A lot of work goes into this and qualifying at these places. It’s a big shot in the arm for the guys at the shop and TRD as well. A good day.”
Daniel Hemric and Daniel Suarez qualified third and fourth, with last season’s Cup champion Kyle Larson rounding out the top-five.
Kurt Busch will start Sunday’s race in sixth, followed by Denny Hamlin in seventh, and William Byron in eighth.
The most recent Talladega winner, Bubba Wallace, will roll off from ninth on the grid, joining Tyler Reddick in closing out the top-10 starters.
GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway Qualifying Results
|1||20||Christopher Bell||DeWalt Toyota||52.927||180.928|
|2||19||Martin Truex Jr.||Bass Pro Shops Toyota||53.008||180.652|
|3||16||Daniel Hemric(i)||Majestic Steel Chevrolet||53.221||179.929|
|4||99||Daniel Suarez||Tootsies Orchid Lounge Chevrolet||53.234||179.885|
|5||5||Kyle Larson||HendrickCars.com Chevrolet||53.254||179.817|
|6||45||Kurt Busch||Monster Energy Toyota||53.255||179.814|
|7||11||Denny Hamlin||FedEx All in for Small Business Toyota||53.308||179.635|
|8||24||William Byron||Liberty University Chevrolet||53.316||179.608|
|9||23||Bubba Wallace||McDonald’s Toyota||53.336||179.541|
|10||8||Tyler Reddick||BetMGM Chevrolet||53.399||179.329|
|11||31||Justin Haley||LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet||53.514||178.944|
|12||18||Kyle Busch||Interstate Batteries Toyota||53.515||178.940|
|13||22||Joey Logano||Shell Pennzoil/Autotrader Ford||53.572||178.750|
|14||3||Austin Dillon||Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Off Road Chevrolet||53.602||178.650|
|15||6||Brad Keselowski||Castrol Carbon Neutral Ford||53.626||178.570|
|16||43||Erik Jones||U.S. Air Force Chevrolet||53.628||178.563|
|17||14||Chase Briscoe||Mahindra Tractors Ford||53.635||178.540|
|18||2||Austin Cindric #||Menards/Sylvania Ford||53.653||178.480|
|19||1||Ross Chastain||Moose Fraternity Chevrolet||53.657||178.467|
|20||42||Ty Dillon||Black Rifle Coffee Company Chevrolet||53.689||178.361|
|21||34||Michael McDowell||Love’s Travel Stops Ford||53.708||178.297|
|22||12||Ryan Blaney||Wurth Ford||53.743||178.181|
|23||10||Aric Almirola||Smithfield/IHOP Ford||53.744||178.178|
|24||4||Kevin Harvick||GEARWRENCH Ford||53.751||178.155|
|25||21||Harrison Burton #||Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford||53.764||178.112|
|26||47||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||Kroger/SunnyD Chevrolet||53.802||177.986|
|27||48||Alex Bowman||Ally Chevrolet||53.813||177.950|
|28||9||Chase Elliott||NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet||53.94||177.531|
|29||41||Cole Custer||Feeding America/Wow Wow Ford||53.943||177.521|
|30||17||Chris Buescher||Fastenal Ford||53.964||177.452|
|31||62||Noah Gragson(i)||Wendyâ€™s $5 Biggie Bag/Beard Oil Chevrolet||53.989||177.369|
|32||38||Todd Gilliland #||First Phase Credit Card Ford||54.178||176.751|
|33||7||Corey LaJoie||Raze Energy Chevrolet||54.205||176.663|
|34||51||Cody Ware||Nurtec ODT Ford||54.677||175.138|
|35||44||Greg Biffle||Morehouse College Chevrolet||54.791||174.773|
|36||15||David Ragan||Envision Ford||55.118||173.736|
|37||78||BJ McLeod||Motorsport Games Ford||55.129||173.702|
|38||55||JJ Yeley(i)||Hex.com Ford||55.662||172.038|
|39||77||Landon Cassill(i)||Fox Nation Chevrolet||0||0|