HAMPTON, Ga. — A year ago, Christopher Bell won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway from the pole position.
Saturday morning, Bell got his NASCAR XFINITY Series tenure at the 1.5-mile quad-oval off to a similar start, topping three-round knockout qualifying to earn his second-career series pole ahead of the Rinnai 250.
Bell toured the track in 30.600 seconds (181.176 mph) with his No. 20 Ruud Toyota to capture his first-ever XFINITY pole on an intermediate-style track. He previously won the pole at Iowa Speedway last summer.
Despite coming from short track racing, Bell said he had more fun scoring the Atlanta pole on Saturday.
“This one’s a little bit more enjoyable,” admitted Bell. “I love 1.5-milers, especially here at Atlanta. It’s a really old surface, so it makes it a lot of fun to drive on. Jason and the whole JGR crew have prepared a really fast Ruud Camry for me and I think we’ve got a shot at it.”
“Qualifying is a totally different deal than racing. The good thing for us is, all we did was long runs throughout practice yesterday, so we have a good idea of where we stack up on the long run. It’s going to be tough racing Harvick, Logano and all the other talented guys — winning will be a tall order — but I’ve got the car do it and I’ve got the crew chief to do it, so let’s hope I can get it done.”
Bell edged Joey Logano, who will start second (30.630/180.999) for Team Penske, by three hundredths of a second in the third and final knockout round.
Rookie John Hunter Nemechek rolls off third for his series debut, followed by Cole Custer and Kevin Harvick.
Daniel Hemric, Brandon Jones, Kyle Benjamin, Austin Cindric, Elliott Sadler, Tyler Reddick and Ryan Reed fill out the first six rows on the grid and completed the list of drivers who made it through all three rounds of qualifying.
Spencer Gallagher was the first driver who failed to advance to the last knockout round and will start 13th in the No. 23 Allegiant Chevrolet, posting a best lap of 30.874 seconds (179.569 mph) on his second run.
Other notables eliminated in round two included Matt Tifft (14th), Ryan Truex (15th), Justin Allgaier (17th), Chase Briscoe (18th) and Michael Annett (21st).
Ryan Sieg was the highest man below the cut line in the opening round, starting 25th (31.568/175.621) in the No. 39 Georgia Metals Chevrolet.
With 42 cars on the property attempting to make the 40-car starting field, Josh Bilicki and Mike Harmon were the two drivers who failed to qualify.
Saturday’s Rinnai 250 takes the green flag at 2 p.m. ET, live on FOX Sports 1 and the Performance Racing Network.
Full qualifying results can be viewed on the next page…