DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Richard Childress Racing just has a knack for NASCAR XFINITY Series qualifying at Daytona Int’l Speedway in February.
Led by sophomore driver Daniel Hemric, the organization captured its fourth-consecutive pole effort for the XFINITY season-opener on Saturday morning, with Hemric touring the 2.5-mile superspeedway in 47.541 seconds (189.310 mph) during the second and final knockout round.
The pole was the second of Hemric’s XFINITY Series career and his first at Daytona.
“(Working) hard is an understatement for what these guys have done,” said Hemric of his team. “This South Point Hotel & Casino team has done an incredible job overcoming everything we dealt with at the end of last season, preparing during the offseason and then coming back here and recovering from our practice damage yesterday. That’s why you do it, though, is moments like this.”
“Honestly, it was like (Joey) Logano qualifying as good as they did … and the guys who were talking about Daytona 500 qualifying; it was just unexpected for us. We just didn’t expect to have the speed, but this car does, just like XFINITY internet service, so we’re going to keep it going. It’s a good starting spot.”
Chevrolet Camaros swept the top three positions on the qualifying grid, with Kyle Larson joining Hemric on the front row for Chip Ganassi Racing after posting the second-fastest lap (47.624/188.980) on his second run.
Hemric’s RCR teammate Matt Tifft will line up directly behind him in third (47.640/188.917), followed by Joey Logano’s Ford and another Chevrolet in Spencer Gallagher.
Justin Allgaier, Ryan Truex, Michael Annett, Chase Elliott, Tyler Reddick, Austin Cindric and Elliott Sadler rounded out the first six rows of the grid and all advanced through both rounds of qualifying. Sadler did not post a final round time after the team found an issue with the engine cool-down system on his car during the break between rounds.
Aric Almirola was the first driver who failed to advance out of round one, putting the No. 98 Smithfield Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing with Biagi-DebBeste 13th on the grid with a lap of 48.242 seconds (186.559 mph).
In a rare twist, none of the three Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas made it to the second round, with Christopher Bell leading that trio in 14th. Saturday marked the first time that JGR did not have a car running for the pole since the Daytona opener one year ago.
Bell was also the fastest Toyota in qualifying. His teammates Daniel Suarez and Brandon Jones were 18th and 19th, respectively.
Other notables mired deep in the pack include Cole Custer (15th), Joe Nemechek (17th), Joey Gase (20th), Ross Chastain (24th) and Kaz Grala (29th).
Austin Dillon will start the No. 3 Chevrolet Camaro last on the 40-car field, after being barred from making a lap due to a rear suspension issue discovered during technical inspection earlier in the weekend.
With 46 cars on the property, Gray Gaulding, Ray Black II, Chris Cockrum, Morgan Shepherd, Josh Bilicki and Mike Harmon failed to make the starting field.
Full qualifying results can be viewed on the next page…