Hill scores 1st career NXS pole for Saturday’s Sparks 300 (4 p.m. ET, USA, MRN)

TALLADEGA, Ala — Austin Hill scored his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series pole on Friday as he’ll roll off first in Saturday’s Sparks 300 (4 p.m. ET, USA, MRN) at the Talladega Superspeedway. The rookie driver circled the high banked 2.66-mile Alabama track with a speed of 182.036 mph in his No. 21 Chevrolet.

Hill qualified 2nd here this past April and was 20th in his only other NXS start here in 2020. He also qualified 2nd and 5th in his final two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts at Talladega in 2020 and 2021. This will mark his 2nd top 5 starting spot in the last 11 races.

He had to hold off Ty Gibbs in the end as the grandson of Joe Gibbs went 181.981 mph in his No. 54 Toyota. This is his 3rd front row starting spot in the last 4 races of the year and 8th in the last 13. He qualified 3rd in the spring.

Sheldon Creed will start 3rd in his No. 2 Chevrolet. The rookie driver qualified with a speed of 181.870 mph. He also started in Row 2 (4th) in the spring as RCR has 2 of the top 3 starters for Saturday’s second playoff race.

Justin Allgaier (181.529 mph) will start 4th in his No. 7 Chevrolet while Brandon Jones (181.305 mph) rounded out the top 5 in his No. 19 Toyota. This is Jones’ first top 5 starting spot here since 2017.

Noah Gragson is looking to score his 5th straight win on Saturday afternoon and starts 6th in his No. 9 Chevrolet. He won the spring race from 19th in April.

Between RCR and JR Motorsports, they have 5 of the top 7 starters. They have to be the favorites because 8 of the last 9 winners were Chevy powered drivers including 7 straight here. The thing is, just 1 pole winner has won at Talladega in the last 16 tries and 7 of the last 10 were won by a driver coming from outside the top 5 starting position.

The last 2 winners started 19th. Joe Graf Jr. rolls off there on Saturday.

7 of the top 8 qualifiers are all playoff drivers. Daniel Hemric (12th), Sam Mayer (13th), Ryan Sieg (14th), Riley Herbst (23rd) and Jeremy Clements (37th) each were eliminated in Round 1.

Top Stat

  • Just once did the driver lead the most laps and win at Talladega during the stage era (2019)
  • 6 of the 8 Stage 1’s did the eventual race winner score stage points. 4 of the 6 finished either 1st or 2nd.
  • 0 the last 3 races saw the eventual winner score points in Stage 2. In fact, the eventual race winner has a top 5 in just 1 of the last 6 2nd stages.

Sparks 300 Starting Lineup

Row 1: Austin Hill (P), Ty Gibbs (P)

Row 2: Sheldon Creed R, Justin Allgaier (P)

Row 3: Brandon Jones (P), Noah Gragson (P)

Row 4: Josh Berry (P), AJ Allmendinger (P)

Row 5: Parker Kligerman, Ryan Vargas

Row 6: Trevor Bayne, Daniel Hemric (P)

Row 7: Sam Mayer (P), Ryan Sieg (P)

Row 8: Blaine Perkins, Jeb Burton

Row 9: Brandon Brown, Landon Cassill

Row 10: Joe Graf Jr., Anthony Alfredo

Row 11: Myatt Snider, Jesse Iwuji R

Row 12: Riley Herbst (P), Bayley Currey

Row 13: Joey Gase, Derek Griffith

Row 14: Jeffrey Earnhardt, CJ McLaughlin

Row 15: Mason Massey, Josh Williams

Row 16: Caesar Bacarella, BJ McLeod

Row 17: David Starr, Howie Disavino III

Row 18: JJ Yeley, Timmy Hill

Row 19: Jeremy Clements (P), Mike Harmon

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