MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Though he’s no longer in contention to run for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship, Chase Briscoe served notice Saturday at Martinsville Speedway that he will still play a major factor down the home stretch of the season.
Briscoe stormed to the top spot during the third and final round of knockout qualifying, touring the .526-mile paper clip in 19.774 seconds (95.762 mph) with the No. 29 Cooper Standard Ford F-150 to garner his third pole of the season and first at Martinsville.
“We made a lot of adjustments overnight, but we felt like we were really good on a race run,” said Briscoe. “Yesterday when we mocked up, we didn’t mock up that great … but we did feel like we left a little bit (on the table).”
“I think the biggest thing is we just had so many laps left on our tires. We didn’t run very much in the first couple (rounds) there. These guys have been giving me the best every single week, so I’m really looking forward to the race here and think we can make something happen.”
Two-time Martinsville winner Matt Crafton will join Briscoe on the front row for Saturday afternoon’s race, timing in second-fastest with a lap of 19.814 seconds (95.569 mph) in the No. 88 Menards/Ideal Doors Toyota.
His ThorSport Racing teammate Ben Rhodes was third (19.825/95.516), followed by defending race winner Johnny Sauter and rookie Noah Gragson.
Austin Cindric, Ryan Truex and Kaz Grala were sixth through eighth, respectively, with 17-year-old Mason Diaz — a Manassas, Va. native — earning the ninth starting spot in his first-ever Truck Series appearance.
“It’s unbelievable, I can’t believe we just did that,” Diaz grinned. “Yesterday, my first time ever sitting in the truck was for race practice. I went out there, learned the truck, figured it out and here we went out for qualifying and just made the final round. I’m so blessed … I seriously can’t believe we finished ninth in qualifying at all.”
Harrison Burton, Stewart Friesen and Gray Gaulding — driving a Premium Motorsports entry for veteran owner Jay Robinson — filled out the first six rows on the grid.
Though Todd Gilliland was the first man below the cut line to advance to the final round, qualifying 13th (/94.756) with the No. 46 Pedigree Toyota, the real surprise was playoff leader Christopher Bell’s struggles in round two.
Bell could only muster the 15th-quickest lap (20.007/94.647) with the No. 4 JBL Toyota.
“That wasn’t good,” admitted Bell. “I didn’t do a good job executing and just couldn’t really find what I needed out there. This place has been always extremely tough for me and I don’t know. I kind of knew on our mock run yesterday, I didn’t really feel that great. Long-run speed, I felt like we were okay.”
“It (qualifying) has never been one of my strong suits, but I feel like we’ve got a good Tundra. We weren’t the best truck in the spring and we had a shot to win so I got all the faith in the world that Rudy’s going to have a good strategy to get us up front and get this JBL Tundra into victory lane.”
John Hunter Nemechek was the other playoff driver who failed to make it past round two, timing in 17th-fastest (20.011/94.628), just ahead of teammate and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regular Ty Dillon in 18th.
The Texas Roadhouse 200 kicks off at 1 p.m. ET, live on FOX Sports 1, the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.
Full qualifying results can be viewed on the next page…