MARTINSVILLE, VA — Brandon Jones enters Saturday’s Dead on Tools 250 (3 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN) in a must-win situation. The good news is, Jones has the best vantage point to start the Round of 8 elimination race. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver starts on the pole at the Martinsville (VA) Speedway as the Georgia native turned in a speed of 95.482 mph in his No. 19 Toyota.
It was Jones’ 8th career NASCAR Xfinity Series pole, 4 of which in the last 9 races. He enters the cut race 38 points below the cutline but luckily for him, he won the spring race here and picks up where he left off this past April. This was his 7th top 7 starting spot in the last 9 races.
Rookie Sheldon Creed will start alongside of Jones on Saturday. The RCR driver turned in a speed of 95.333 mph in his No. 2 Chevrolet. Creed qualified 5th here in April as this is his best qualifying effort of the season. His previous best was 3rd at Darlington, Kansas and Talladega. He has 8 top 10 starting spots in the last 10 races.
Sammy Smith (95.314 mph) starts third in his No. 18 Toyota for his sixth top 8 starting spot in eight races run this season. Ty Gibbs rolls off fourth (95.165 mph) in his No. 54 Toyota to give JGR 3 of the top 4 starting spots. Gibbs now has four straight top four starting positions and 17 consecutive top 10 starting spots. He rolled off on the pole in April and was 2nd in this race for a year ago.
A pair of JR Motorsports drivers will share Row 3 with Noah Gragson (95.079 mph) and Justin Allgaier (94.482 mph) rolling off 5th and 6th respectively. Gragson has started in the top 3 rows in 7 of the last 10 races with Allgaier having a top 6 start in 5 of the last 7 himself.
That’s half of the 8 Round of 8 drivers coming from the top 6. AJ Allmendinger (9th), Josh Berry (13th), Sam Mayer (22nd) and Austin Hill (36th) will come from behind. The good news for them is none of the last 6 races here were won by a top 5 starter. The bad news is, since the Xfinity Series returned to the .526-mile Virginia paperclip, only JR Motorsports (both 2021 races) and Joe Gibbs Racing (Fall 2020, Spring 2022) have won at Martinsville. They combined to make up 5 of the top 6 starting spots.
Hill blew a tube going into qualifying and didn’t make a qualifying attempt. Daniel Hemric crashed in practice and also didn’t qualify. Kyle Weatherman also didn’t make an attempt himself.
Qualifying on Friday was also big for pit selection next weekend. While the Championship 4 will get the first four picks of stalls, it’s in order to which they qualified on Friday meaning will likely pick the first pit stall next week as the top qualifier among playoff drivers this afternoon and Austin Hill will go last as the 36th placed qualifier.
Row 1: Brandon Jones (P), Sheldon Creed R
Row 2: Sammy Smith (P – owners), Ty Gibbs (P)
Row 3: Noah Gragson (P), Justin Allgaier (P)
Row 4: Anthony Alfredo, Riley Herbst
Row 5: AJ Allmendinger (P), Jeremy Clements
Row 6: Jeb Burton, Joe Graf Jr.
Row 7: Josh Berry (P), Myatt Snider
Row 8: Myatt Snider, Derek Griffith
Row 9: Rajah Caruth, Ryan Sieg
Row 10: Howie Disavino III, Bayley Currey
Row 11: Alex Labbe, Sam Mayer (P)
Row 12: Blaine Perkins, Nicholas Sanchez
Row 13: Stefan Parsons, Matt Mills
Row 14: Brandon Brown, JJ Yeley
Row 15: Ryan Vargas, Patrick Emerling
Row 16: Kris Wright, Mason Massey
Row 17: Josh Williams, CJ McLaughlin
Row 18: Chad Finchum, Austin Hill
Row 19: Daniel Hemric, Kyle Weatherman