BRISTOL, Tenn. — On a cool and cloudy Saturday morning at Bristol Motor Speedway, the hottest driver in NASCAR was fastest among the XFINITY Series field.
Sprint Cup points leader Kyle Larson eclipsed the old series track qualifying record at BMS with a lap of 14.992 seconds (127.988 mph) to start up front for Saturday’s Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300.
Larson’s quick mark is only his second-career NXS pole, but the other came three years ago, also at Bristol.
“I know it’s cool to get a pole but I’d like to be in the back so I can work the top in quick,” Larson said. “Our ENEOS Chevy qualified better than I thought I would. I thought I’d be top-four or five, I don’t know if I have the speed to be on the pole. I thought the 20 would be a lot faster than he actually was there in qualifying. He’ll be really good in the race along with the 7 (Allgaier) and Austin Dillon as well.”
“Second-ever XFINITY pole and second one here so happy about that. Hopefully we can get the race in today. The radar and the forecast look bad but it’s not been raining so we can catch some luck and race later today.”
Larson snagged the pole an hour after spinning in Saturday’s first Cup practice.
“If I was starting in the back I could (run the top) early … but it’s hard when you run so many cars and laps around the bottom it puts marbles up top and takes a long time for those to get picked up if you move up there and you go a lot slower to try to do it. Hopefully once this race starts, people mid-pack to the back will try and work the groove up some and maybe we can get up there faster.”
Starting alongside the No. 42 ENEOS Chevrolet is the series’ most recent Bristol winner, Austin Dillon.
The No. 2 Rheem Chevrolet team survived a wild event last August and ended up in victory lane once the fireworks off-track were done.
“Justin [Alexander] and the entire Rheem Chevy team has done a good job,” A. Dillon said. “Feel like we have something to work with. I was really proud of our practice sessions yesterday. We ran our fastest lap on our third lap right there, just a little too loose to get that little bit extra that Kyle had. I’m proud of the team and we’ll take that.”
“My grandfather let me know that he wished that I was in first or third and I said, ‘Yeah, me too.’ It didn’t quite work out the way we wanted it to … but we’ll get after it in the race. I think we can get down pretty early.”
Cole Custer was quickest of the series regulars in third (127.292 mph) with Texas winner Erik Jones fourth. Justin Allgaier led Friday’s only practice and stayed near the top of qualifying, eventually slotting in fifth (126.838 mph).
Matt Tifft qualified seventh for Joe Gibbs Racing, while Richard Childress Racing’s Daniel Hemric turned the eighth-fastest time in the final round. Two Cup drivers completed the top 10 in Ryan Blaney and Daniel Suarez.
The top-two in points have their work cut out for them as point leader Elliott Sadler rolls off 17th in his No. 1 Armour 150 Years Chevrolet, while his rookie teammate William Byron goes from 19th, once again flying the Liberty University colors this weekend at Bristol.
40 cars attempted to qualify, so all drivers made the starting field.
The green flag for Saturday’s Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 is scheduled to drop at 1 p.m. ET (FS1, PRN, SiriusXM).
Full qualifying results can be viewed on the next page…