TALLADEGA, Ala. – Christopher Bell swept both rounds of knockout qualifying at Talladega Superspeedway to notch his fourth-career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series pole on Saturday.
While every other driver who took time in the final round slowed down slightly from their first-round speed, Bell actually picked up speed on his pole-winning run, touring the 2.66-mile high banked tri-oval in 53.165 seconds (180.118 mph) with the No. 4 JBL Audio Toyota.
Bell’s pole-winning run puts him in prime position to potentially capture his sixth win of the year and first at Talladega when the Fred’s Pharmacy 250 powered by Coca-Cola takes the green flag.
“Man, this is really special,” said Bell. “This is KBM’s first-ever superspeedway pole, so that’s cool to be able to give them. It’s a huge credit to all the guys at the fab shop that work on this truck. Speedway poles are all about the team, the truck, the motor and very little about the driver. I’m just thankful to be able to drive this piece today, because it’s really fast.”
The pole was the 36th-career pole for Kyle Busch Motorsports as an organization in their Truck Series tenure, as well as their eighth of the season.
Bell will be joined on the front row by his chief playoff rival, defending Truck champion Johnny Sauter, who was second-fastest in both rounds and posted a time of 53.489 seconds (179.027 mph) with his No. 33 Allegiant Travel Chevrolet in the final round.
Stewart Friesen used a career-best pavement qualifying effort to slot in third for Halmar-Friesen Racing (53.571/178.753), followed by rookies Justin Haley and Chase Briscoe.
Austin Cindric, Ryan Truex, Noah Gragson, Myatt Snider, Ben Rhodes and Matt Crafton completed the remainder of the 11 trucks who took a lap in the second and final knockout round.
Kaz Grala, who timed in third-fastest in the opening round of qualifying, did not post a time in the final round after his team found water in the oil in his No. 33 GMS Racing Chevrolet.
As a result, Grala – who enters Talladega below the elimination line – will roll off 12th for Saturday afternoon’s race.
Also having qualifying trouble was John Hunter Nemechek, who had an issue with the safety flap on the decklid of his No. 8 Fire Alarm Services Chevrolet coming up during his run, creating additional drag and slowing Nemechek to 15th (54.225/176.598) in the running order.
“It was like we put a parachute out the back,” explained Nemechek, who is also at risk of elimination. “It’s a bummer, but we’ll fight forward. I’m still confident in our team and our equipment.”
“We had a really fast truck yesterday in practice. It drafted well and it was pretty fast in single-truck speed, also. I thought we were going to have a shot to win the pole today, but obviously, it wasn’t meant to be. We’re fixing the flap now, but it absolutely killed us on our run there.”
Nemechek was the only playoff driver who did not advance to the final knockout round.
The Fred’s Pharmacy 250 powered by Coca-Cola kicks off at 1 p.m. ET, live on FOX, the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.
Full qualifying results can be viewed on the next page…