Week in and week out, Erik Jones has impressed throughout his rookie season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and on Friday evening at Bristol Motor Speedway, Jones took another step forward by scoring his first career pole.
With the clock winding down, Jones’ lap of 14.981 seconds, 128.062 mph, propelled him to the top of the board and into position to clinch the pole. Though a few other drivers took a shot at Jones’ fast lap, they weren’t quite quick enough to best him over the final few seconds.
The pole for Jones is huge as he currently sits 16th in points, but is on the outside of the playoff field and will need a win to be able to make it into the postseason with a chance at the championship.
“It’s awesome,” said Jones. “It’s cool any time you get your first pole in a series, but to do it at Bristol, that’s pretty cool. I’m just excited. We’ve got a really good 5-Hour Energy Camry. We had a good week last week and we’ve done a good job keeping the momentum going so far, so hoping for a good day tomorrow night. Obviously really excited to get the race going now and see what we can do.”
“I was hoping we were going to be able to accomplish a few things this year and this was one of our goals – at least one of my goals for sure. Pretty awesome you know, especially at Bristol. It’s a cool place to get your first pole. Bristol’s been really good to me over the last couple years, especially in the XFINITY Series, so to come here now in the Cup car and get the 5-Hour Energy car a pole is just really sweet. We’ve been working really hard and been having better and better results over the last month and to see it kind of accumulate and work itself into a pole is just really special. Just one more to go and I’ll be hopefully talking to you again soon. I’ll be really happy.”
Jones will be joined on the front row by Kyle Larson, who has already won three times in 2017 and has also finished inside the top-10 three times at Bristol.
“I wish I could have gone just a few thousandths faster, but ended up second,” said Larson. “So, not bad. I really wanted that pole there just because I was doing something different than everybody, but we’ll start on the front row tomorrow and hopefully be there at the end.”
The drivers rounding out the remainder of the top-10 include Kasey Kahne, who notched his best qualifying effort of the season, Chase Elliott, Matt Kenseth, Martin Truex, Jr., Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer, and Ryan Blaney.
Kyle Busch was the fastest in round one of qualifying, but was only able to put up the 18th fastest time in the second round, leading to his worst qualifying effort since Texas back in April.
Other notables further down the starting order include Jimmie Johnson in 21st, Kurt Busch in 25th, Kevin Harvick in 29th, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in 31st.