Kurt Busch made it a Ford sweep of the top three positions in third, with Martin Truex Jr.’s Toyota and Kyle Larson’s Chevrolet following in fourth and fifth, respectively.
Chase Elliott, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Erik Jones, Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer and Paul Menard filled out the first six rows and were all part of the dozen drivers who advanced through all three rounds of knockout qualifying.
After winning the pole for the Truck Series event, Kyle Busch just missed transferring to the final round in Cup qualifying, ending up .017 of a second shy of the cut line in the No. 18 M&M’s Caramel Toyota.
“We lost time from the center (to the) exit of turn two,” said Busch, who will start 13th on Sunday. “I couldn’t quite get the gas down and it was a little free over there. In the first round it felt pretty good there, but I’m surprised it wasn’t just fast enough to make it to the next round. If you look at our historical numbers, though, we don’t typically qualify well here, so I’m not too worried about it.”
Other notables mired in the mid-pack included four-time Las Vegas winner Jimmie Johnson (14th), Daytona 500 winner Austin Dillon (16th), rookie William Byron (17th), Denny Hamlin (19th) and Alex Bowman (20th).
Qualifying was a major struggle for Richard Childress Racing and its affiliate cars, with Ryan Newman and Darrell Wallace Jr. both notably failing to advance out of the first knockout round.
Newman will start 25th (28.777/187.624) in the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, with Wallace to his outside in 26th (28.793/187.546) with the No. 43 Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas Chevrolet.
Wallace attempted to get to the line to make a second run and try to bump into the top 24, but didn’t make it to the start-finish line before time expired in the 15-minute session.
“I don’t know whether we could have gotten in or not, honestly,” Wallace admitted. “I felt really good about where the car was at … and then I looked at the time and was really shocked. All the RCR cars are right there together, though, so that just shows we don’t have a lot of speed right now.”
“We started 25th at Daytona and finished second, and while the racing is different here than it was there, the mentality is what I’m trying to get at. My mom always told me, ‘It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish.'”
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams return to the track for practice on Saturday at noon Eastern, live on FOX Sports 1.
Full qualifying results can be viewed on the next page…