Christopher Bell needed this. He entered Sundays Pennzoil 400 (3:30 p.m. ET, Fox, PRN) last in NASCAR Cup Series points. Now, he has a good chance of significantly moving up.
Bell (29.561-seconds) won his first ever Busch Pole Award on an overcast Saturday morning from the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver made note that he’s not had many opportunities to qualify in Cup competition since 31 of the 36 races of his rookie year were without it. So was 28 of the 36 last season.
Bell, is the 18th different driver to win a pole in Vegas and second driver to win his 1st career pole there. Kasey Kahne (3/7/04) was the other. It was also JGR’s 6th Vegas pole, most ever, breaking a tie with Penske.
The Oklahoma native finished seventh in last years races but only 34th and 36 respectively so far this season. The problem is, just once has someone won the pole and the race itself on the 1.5 mile track.
He will be joined on the front row by Kyle Larson for his 39th career front row start. Larson, went 29.668 seconds in his No. 5 Chevrolet.
Larson bested Bell in practice earlier and they flip flopped in qualifying. The California native started in the rear last week and won in Fontana. He also won this very race last year too.
Last weeks pole sitter Austin Cindric (29.704 seconds) starts third alongside Chase Briscoe (29.714 seconds).
Cindric has qualified fifth, first and now third this season.
Chase Elliott (29.716 seconds) rounded out the top five.
Trends shows that the guys up front would start there anyways. 3 of the top 4 is career best average starting spots in Vegas start in the top six. Larson, Joey Logano and Elliott are second, third and fourth respectively on the list.
In practice prior to qualifying, Kyle Busch had a tire go down and couldn’t hold onto his No. 18 Toyota when entering Turn 3. As a result, the back end stepped out on him and caused his Joe Gibbs Racing entry to spin and make driver side contact with the SAFER barrier.
Busch, would have to go to a backup car and start in the rear for Sunday’s race. This is the 1st time this season he won’t start in the top 10.
We’ve had 1st career pole winners in back-to-back weeks now.