NXS: Another JGR 1-2-3 In Qualifying; Busch Scores Texas Pole With Jones and Suarez Right Behind

Kyle Magda Featured, NASCAR, Southwest 0 Comments

FORT WORTH, Tex. — Report by Race Chaser Online Northeast Correspondent Kyle Magda — Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images North America photo —

Once again, the sweep is complete for the Joe Gibbs Racing bunch in XFINITY Series qualifying Friday afternoon at Texas Motor Speedway.

JGR led all three sessions with defending race winner Erik Jones being fastest in the first round and Kyle Busch leading the way in rounds two and three to claim his third series pole of 2016.

The three Gibbs cars start 1-2-3 for a record fifth-consecutive race as Busch brings the field to green in Friday night’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300.

“The guys have done a really, really nice job,” Busch said. Obviously, they’re building some good stuff, I think it’s still cars from last year, but overall we’ve had a really good time with the cars that they’re building. The crew chiefs are doing a great job too, gelling and working together, so everything’s in play right now, so can’t say enough about everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing in the XFINITY shop. They’re doing a great job too. Mark Cronquist and JGR engines are strong and we got the whole package, so that’s what it’s all about.”

The consistent cloud-cover hovering over TMS showed faster speeds in qualifying, both on the XFINITY and Sprint Cup sides.

“I didn’t expect this cloud cover today, so that’s part of what’s thrown the speeds a little bit higher for qualifying than maybe what they would have been if we had full sunshine. Just trying to play to the circumstances, Chris Gayle is a really good leader and these guys believe in him and so do I that we can have a good car for the race and make good changes to it throughout the race and hopefully keep us up front and in position to try to win one.”

Busch’s teammates Erik Jones (second) and Daniel Suarez (third) have yet to beat the defending Cup champ one-on-one for a series victory and lock a spot into the 2016 Chase which currently has no drivers in it since all Cup regulars won the season’s first five races.

“It seems  so far we’ve been racing our teammates this weekend again which is a really big testament to JGR and being as fast as we have been these last few weeks,” Jones said about the competition. “I hope we can [beat Kyle], it’s not going to be easy by any means and he’s not going to make it easy on us, so we’ll just have to stay strong all night and stay with him, make sure we’re doing everything right and got to have a really good night and hopefully we can do it tonight.”

Jones led both practice sessions Thursday afternoon and scored his first career XFINITY Series victory in this race one year ago. The rookie driver won the pole at Phoenix to stop Busch’s streak of back-to-back poles at Atlanta and Las Vegas. Suarez added his first one of the year at Auto Club last time out in a wild finish which all three cars ran up front the entire race until the closing laps.

“I think we really worked on drive yesterday and it’s something a lot of people struggled with and we saw our teammates struggle with it as well. Finally at the end of practice, we got that drive, especially off of [Turn] 4, so that makes me feel good about it. We were just too tight in the last round to be able to get the pole, but a good effort overall for us to get the GameStop Camry a good starting position. Well going into tonight, obviously we’re disappointed here to be second in qualifying. I thought we really had a car that could do it, but we’ll go out and make it happen in the race.”

Suarez completes the JGR trifecta by starting third in his No. 19 Juniper Networks Toyota with that first series victory in sight.

Behind the Gibbs bunch is the pair of Chip Ganassi Racing machines in Kyle Larson (fourth) and Brennan Poole (fifth).  CGR goes into this race with heavy hearts as the organization lost No. 42 team car chief Ryan Shea last Wednesday. On a brighter note, both CGR cars made the top-five in qualifying and Poole ties his best-career starting spot of fifth in the No. 48 DC Solar Chevrolet.

“We had a really fast car, tied my best starting position, so I’m pumped,” Poole said. “This race, we’re going to try to dedicate to Shea, so hopefully we can get to victory lane tonight. We miss him this weekend, not being at the racetrack. Proud of my DC Solar Chevy guys, it was a lot of fun. Shout-out to Jeff and Paula at the Masters, hopefully we can get it done tonight.”

The Dillon brothers Ty and Austin start sixth and seventh respectively, with last fall’s Texas winner Brad Keselowski rolling off eighth. Rookie Brandon Jones and Ryan Reed rounded out the top-10.

One JR Motorsports car made the final round of qualifying in the No. 88 of Dale Earnhardt Jr. He scored both his first XFINITY and Cup wins at the 1.5-mile track and battled late with Erik Jones in last year’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300. Elliott Sadler and Chase Elliott start right beside each other in Row 8 as both drivers have to work their way towards the front.

“We’re just off a little bit,” Chase Elliott said. “We did have a skip there in the engine, but I don’t think it was worth however much we were off. We’ll try to fix that for the race tonight, try to get that straightened out and just try to get the car driving. I think it’s going to get slick later and hopefully, we’ll get our TaxSlayer.com Chevrolet up to the front.”

JRM driver Justin Allgaier and Garrett Smithley didn’t record a lap in the second round as 40 cars start Friday night’s race. Jeff Green was the only car not to make the race.

The green flag for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 drops shortly after 8:30 p.m. ET (7:30 p.m. CT) and can be seen on FOX Sports 1.

RESULTS: NASCAR XFINITY Series; Coors Light Pole Qualifying; Texas Motor Speedway; April 8, 2016

  1. Kyle Busch
  2. Erik Jones
  3. Daniel Suarez
  4. Kyle Larson
  5. Brennan Poole
  6. Ty Dillon
  7. Austin Dillon
  8. Brad Keselowski
  9. Brandon Jones
  10. Ryan Reed
  11. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  12. Jeb Burton
  13. Brendan Gaughan
  14. Ryan Sieg
  15. Elliott Sadler
  16. Chase Elliott
  17. Ross Chastain
  18. Aric Almirola
  19. Darrell Wallace Jr.
  20. Jeremy Clements
  21. Ryan Preece
  22. Dakoda Armstrong
  23. Justin Allgaier
  24. Garrett Smithley
  25. Blake Koch
  26. David Starr
  27. Matt Tifft
  28. Josh Wise
  29. J.J. Yeley
  30. Joey Gase
  31. Matt DiBenedetto
  32. Carl Long
  33. Ray Black Jr.
  34. Ryan Ellis
  35. Derrike Cope
  36. Martin Roy
  37. BJ McLeod
  38. Cody Ware
  39. Mike Harmon
  40. Todd Peck

DNQ: Jeff Green

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