XFINITY: First Time’s A Charm; Byron Scores Phoenix Pole for DC Solar 200

Ryan O'Hara Featured, NASCAR, Southwest, XFINITY 0 Comments


William Byron looks on during XFINITY Series pole qualifying (Sean Gardner/Getty Images North America).

AVONDALE, Ariz. — It didn’t take long for XFinity Series rookie William Byron to get up to speed in NASCAR’s second-tier series.

Byron scored his first career 21 Means 21 Pole Award Saturday morning at Phoenix Raceway. The JR Motorsports driver laid down a lap of 26.969 seconds in the final round (133.487 mph) to secure the top spot.

“I kind of missed the bottom a little bit,” Byron said about his qualifying run. “I just had to hit my marks and make sure that I did everything right (in round three). Just really proud of the whole 9 team and hopefully we’ll see a good result in the race; I’m really looking forward to it.”

“It’s really cool to have Axalta on the car for the first week and get the pole. That’s hopefully a good sign for later this afternoon. Just thrilled to bounce back like this from last week.”

Two-time Truck Phoenix winner Erik Jones was fastest in round two but wasn’t able to knock Byron off the pole and starts second for this afternoon’s race. Jones qualified best among Cup drivers with Austin Dillon right behind in third.

XFINITY Series regulars Blake Koch and Justin Allgaier rounded out the top-five.

Byron was second-quickest in the second round behind Jones and admitted that he made a mistake.

Points leader Elliott Sadler was sixth and Darrell Wallace Jr. led the Ford camp with a seventh-place qualifying effort. Rookies Matt Tifft and Cole Custer were eighth and ninth, respectively as Brendan Gaughan completed the top-10.

Eight cars were unable to post a lap due to not getting through inspection which included Cuppers Ryan Blaney (33rd) and Daniel Suarez (34th).  Blaney led opening XFINITY practice while the No. 22 team hasn’t won a series race since Nov. 2015 at Texas Motor Speedway.

“Unfortuantely, we’re all backed up here and looks like a lot of cars didn’t make it out,” Blaney said. “I’ve got a really good Discount Tire Ford Mustang yesterday and we’ll have to work hard and hopefully get up front by the end by the day. Just couldn’t make this a little more efficient but what you going to do? You want to get to the front as quickly as you can and just try to set yourself up for the end. You don’t want to be playing catch-up all day so be patiently aggressive I guess is the best word for that.”

Daniel Hemric, Dakoda Armstrong, Brandon Jones, and Ross Chastain will also start from the rear. 40 cars showed up this weekend so no one went home.

The green flag for the DC Solar 200 drops shortly after 4 p.m. ET (1 p.m. PT) and can be seen live on FOX.


RESULTS: NASCAR XFINITY Series; Coors Light Pole Qualifying; Phoenix Raceway; March 18, 2017

  1. William Byron
  2. Erik Jones
  3. Austin Dillon
  4. Blake Koch
  5. Justin Allgaier
  6. Elliott Sadler
  7. Darrell Wallace Jr.
  8. Matt Tifft
  9. Cole Custer
  10. Brendan Gaughan
  11. Ryan Reed
  12. Michael Annett
  13. Ty Dillon
  14. Drew Herring
  15. Tyler Reddick
  16. Ryan Sieg
  17. Brennan Poole
  18. J.J. Yeley
  19. Jeremy Clements
  20. Harrison Rhodes
  21. Ray Black Jr.
  22. Spencer Gallagher
  23. Garrett Smithley
  24. Matt Mills
  25. Joey Gase
  26. Jordan Anderson
  27. David Starr
  28. Mario Gosselin
  29. Morgan Shepherd
  30. Mike Harmon
  31. Timmy Hill
  32. Carl Long
  33. Ryan Blaney
  34. Daniel Suarez
  35. Daniel Hemric
  36. Dakoda Armstrong
  37. Brandon Jones
  38. Ross Chastain
  39. BJ McLeod
  40. Stephen Leicht

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