Photo: Stephen A. Arce/ASP, Inc.

Christopher Bell Scores Talladega Pole in JGR Front Row Sweep

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

120Christopher BellDeWalt Toyota52.927180.928
219Martin Truex Jr.Bass Pro Shops Toyota53.008180.652
316Daniel Hemric(i)Majestic Steel Chevrolet53.221179.929
499Daniel SuarezTootsies Orchid Lounge Chevrolet53.234179.885
55Kyle Chevrolet53.254179.817
645Kurt BuschMonster Energy Toyota53.255179.814
711Denny HamlinFedEx All in for Small Business Toyota53.308179.635
824William ByronLiberty University Chevrolet53.316179.608
923Bubba WallaceMcDonald’s Toyota53.336179.541
108Tyler ReddickBetMGM Chevrolet53.399179.329
1131Justin HaleyLeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet53.514178.944
1218Kyle BuschInterstate Batteries Toyota53.515178.940
1322Joey LoganoShell Pennzoil/Autotrader Ford53.572178.750
143Austin DillonBass Pro Shops/TRACKER Off Road Chevrolet53.602178.650
156Brad KeselowskiCastrol Carbon Neutral Ford53.626178.570
1643Erik JonesU.S. Air Force Chevrolet53.628178.563
1714Chase BriscoeMahindra Tractors Ford53.635178.540
182Austin Cindric #Menards/Sylvania Ford53.653178.480
191Ross ChastainMoose Fraternity Chevrolet53.657178.467
2042Ty DillonBlack Rifle Coffee Company Chevrolet53.689178.361
2134Michael McDowellLove’s Travel Stops Ford53.708178.297
2212Ryan BlaneyWurth Ford53.743178.181
2310Aric AlmirolaSmithfield/IHOP Ford53.744178.178
244Kevin HarvickGEARWRENCH Ford53.751178.155
2521Harrison Burton #Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford53.764178.112
2647Ricky Stenhouse Jr.Kroger/SunnyD Chevrolet53.802177.986
2748Alex BowmanAlly Chevrolet53.813177.950
289Chase ElliottNAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet53.94177.531
2941Cole CusterFeeding America/Wow Wow Ford53.943177.521
3017Chris BuescherFastenal Ford53.964177.452
3162Noah Gragson(i)Wendy’s $5 Biggie Bag/Beard Oil Chevrolet53.989177.369
3238Todd Gilliland #First Phase Credit Card Ford54.178176.751
337Corey LaJoieRaze Energy Chevrolet54.205176.663
3451Cody WareNurtec ODT Ford54.677175.138
3544Greg BiffleMorehouse College Chevrolet54.791174.773
3615David RaganEnvision Ford55.118173.736
3778BJ McLeodMotorsport Games Ford55.129173.702
3855JJ Yeley(i) Ford55.662172.038
3977Landon Cassill(i)Fox Nation Chevrolet00

Tags : , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

David Morgan is the Associate Editor for Motorsports Tribune. A 2008 graduate from the University of Mississippi, David has followed NASCAR since the early 90’s and became hooked at an early age after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. He has traveled across the country since 2012 to cover some of the most prestigious events both IndyCar and NASCAR have to offer, with an aim to only expand on that in the near future.