CONCORD, N.C. — Audio, story and photo by Race Chaser Online Managing Editor Jacob Seelman —
Yet again, Joe Gibbs Racing has gone one-two-three in NASCAR XFINITY Series qualifying.
For the sixth time this season, the team’s three Toyotas swept the podium on single lap speed, with rookie Erik Jones taking his fourth pole of the season and seventh of his career in the No. 20 Gamestop Camry.
Jones toured the 1.5-mile quad-oval in 29.261 seconds (184.546 mph) in the third and final knockout round, setting the fastest lap of the weekend to date at CMS and scoring JGR’s 10th-straight XFINITY pole.
“It’s definitely hot out today,” Jones said of the track conditions. “It’s going to be really fun sliding around out there. I think we have a car that’s certainly capable of doing it; it’s just going to be a matter of putting ourselves in the right position come the end of the race.”
“At Charlotte in the daytime, you never really know what you’re gonna have until you get out there. We gained a lot (of speed) between the first and second rounds, but we had a lot we needed if we were going to get to the 19 (of round two leader Daniel Suarez). Luckily we picked up enough to get on point for the 300 miles this afternoon, and we’ll look to put it back in victory lane.”
Jones’ teammates — the aforementioned Suarez and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular Denny Hamlin — will start second and third, respectively, for the Hisense 4K TV 300 (2:30 p.m. ET, FS1, PRN, SiriusXM).
Suarez put down a time of 29.273 seconds (184.470 mph) in the final round, while Hamlin trailed the front row by two tenths of a second at 29.473 (183.219 mph).
A pair of Chevrolets, driven by Austin Dillon (29.567/182.636) and Kyle Larson (29.597/182.451) rounded out the top five on the speed charts.
Elliott Sadler, Joey Logano, Justin Allgaier, Darrell Wallace Jr., Ty Dillon, Cole Custer and Brandon Jones were the remainder of the dozen drivers who transferred through all three rounds of knockout time trials.
Team Penske driver Ryan Blaney was the first man out of the final round cut, and will roll off 13th after posting his best lap of 29.989 seconds (180.066 mph) in round two. Blaney was bumped out by Custer in the final 30 seconds of the round, and did not make it back to the start-finish line to start another qualifying run before time expired.
Other notables whose pole hopes ended in round two included Brennan Poole (14th), Brendan Gaughan (17th), Drew Herring (20th) and a strong-running Jeremy Clements (21st), who posted the 14th overall lap in the 20-minute opening round.
J.J. Yeley was the first car who failed to advance out of the first knockout round, with a lap of 30.554 seconds (176.736 mph) that leaves him starting 25th. Alongside Ryan Preece (30.569/176.650), who will roll off 26th, the pair was bumped out at the last possible moment — when Spencer Gallagher and Drew Herring snuck into the top 24 on their final laps on track.
Another notable name to be mired in the back is Jeb Burton, who was at the center of the only major incident in qualifying. With five minutes to go in round one, Burton went for a spin exiting turn four and plowed through the infield grass on the frontstretch, while on a run to defend his 24th-place position.
He barely caught the wall with the right rear quarter-panel and couldn’t correct the car, later saying that the car was “really, really tight” and that he “just got up a little too high.” Burton’s lap was good enough for 27th, but he will likely have to drop to the rear of the field due to repairs because Saturday’s race is an impound event following qualifying.
With 42 cars fighting for 40 spots, T.J. Bell and Morgan Shepherd were the two drivers who failed to make the starting grid.
The Hisense 4K TV 300 takes the green flag at 2:30 p.m., with live coverage on FOX Sports 1, the Performance Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.
Audio with pole winner Erik Jones:
RESULTS: NASCAR XFINITY Series; Coors Light Pole Qualifying; Charlotte Motor Speedway; May 28, 2016
- Erik Jones
- Daniel Suarez
- Denny Hamlin
- Austin Dillon
- Kyle Larson
- Elliott Sadler
- Joey Logano
- Justin Allgaier
- Darrell Wallace Jr.
- Ty Dillon
- Cole Custer
- Brandon Jones
- Ryan Blaney
- Brennan Poole
- Ryan Reed
- Ross Chastain
- Brendan Gaughan
- Blake Koch
- Ryan Sieg
- Drew Herring
- Jeremy Clements
- Spencer Gallagher
- Dakoda Armstrong
- Matt DiBenedetto
- J.J. Yeley
- Ryan Preece
- Jeb Burton
- Josh Wise
- Jeff Green
- B.J. McLeod
- Garrett Smithley
- Ray Black Jr.
- Joey Gase
- Carl Long
- Martin Roy
- Timmy Hill
- Derrike Cope
- Mike Harmon
- Cody Ware
- Harrison Rhodes
DNQ: T.J. Bell, Morgan Shepherd
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 22-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
Email Jacob at: [email protected]
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