April 20, 2024

NASCAR playoffs at Bristol starting lineup: Christopher Bell wins his third pole in a row

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BRISTOL, Tenn. — Christopher Bell won the pole for the Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway in qualifying on Friday evening, posting a lap of 15.109 (126.997 mph) in the final round of qualifying. This is Bell’s third pole in a row, meaning he swept the poles in the NASCAR playoffs’ Round of 16. Bell’s pole is his fifth of the 2023 season, which breaks a tiebreaker with Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin for the most poles in the NASCAR Cup Series this year.

Bell leads seven playoff drivers in the top 10 starting spots, including three out of the four playoff drivers who enter Saturday night’s race below the cut line and facing elimination before the Round of 12. Michael McDowell led all drivers in danger of elimination in fourth, followed by Martin Truex Jr. in fifth and Bubba Wallace in ninth.

Kyle Larson secured his spot in the next round of the playoffs by winning the Southern 500 at Darlington, but qualifying saw him suffer a significant setback in his efforts to earn a second win in the Round of 16. Larson got very loose in the middle of Turns 3 and 4 during his qualifying run, short-circuiting his lap and leaving him starting shotgun on the field in 36th.

“I just messed up. I got too much of the apron in the center and it just got me loose,” Larson told reporters afterward. “I wanted to get some of (the apron), I was a little bit too tight on my up-to-speed lap and thought that was because I missed getting my left sides touching the paint, and I just got a little too greedy.”

Larson is one of five playoff drivers who will start outside the top 20, and he is joined by Kevin Harvick in 21st, Ross Chastain in 23rd, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in 25th and Joey Logano in 28th. Stenhouse, who enters Bristol 22 points below the cut line, starts deepest in the field of any driver facing elimination.

Bass Pro Shops Night Race starting lineup

  1. #20 – Christopher Bell
  2. #11 – Denny Hamlin
  3. #24 – William Byron
  4. #34 – Michael McDowell
  5. #19 – Martin Truex Jr.
  6. #6 – Brad Keselowski
  7. #9 – Chase Elliott
  8. #54 – Ty Gibbs (R)
  9. #23 – Bubba Wallace
  10. #7 – Corey LaJoie
  11. #12 – Ryan Blaney
  12. #45 – Tyler Reddick
  13. #48 – Alex Bowman
  14. #14 – Chase Briscoe
  15. #8 – Kyle Busch
  16. #42 – Carson Hocevar
  17. #41 – Ryan Preece
  18. #3 – Austin Dillon
  19. #31 – Justin Haley
  20. #17 – Chris Buescher
  21. #4 – Kevin Harvick
  22. #16 – AJ Allmendinger
  23. #1 – Ross Chastain
  24. #99 – Daniel Suarez
  25. #47 – Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  26. #10 – Aric Almirola
  27. #51 – Ryan Newman
  28. #22 – Joey Logano
  29. #2 – Austin Cindric
  30. #38 – Todd Gilliland
  31. #43 – Erik Jones
  32. #21 – Harrison Burton
  33. #77 – Ty Dillon
  34. #78 – BJ McLeod
  35. #15 – JJ Yeley
  36. #5 – Kyle Lars

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