Christopher Bell topped the leaderboard in Saturday’s NASCAR Cup Series Busch Light Pole Award Qualifying at Talladega Superspeedway at 180.591 mph in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
Right behind him on the charts was Kyle Larson in the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet at 180.516 mph. They’ll make up the front row in Sunday’s YellaWood 500 Round of 12 playoff race (2 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio).
Rounding out the top five were Denny Hamlin in the No. 11 JGR Toyota, Aric Almirola in the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford and Chase Briscoe in the No. 14 SHR Ford.
Ty Gibbs’ No. 23 Toyota started smoking after his first lap on the 2.66-mile high banks, with the team looking into a possible power steering issue. He elected not to make his Round 2 lap and will start 10th.
“I don’t really know what the smoke was there, but hopefully it goes away. I feel like we’re really fast,” Gibbs told NBC Sports after his run.
No. 8 Richard Childress Racing driver Tyler Reddick also damaged the splitter of his Chevrolet after an incident on pit road. The three-time 2022 winner was unable to slow coming to his pit stall and slammed into the retaining wall. He’ll start eighth after turning a circuit at a clip of 179.366 mph.
“I’ve never screwed that up that bad before … I went to the brakes and it was soft, I should’ve pumped them up a few times coming down pit road. I just screwed that up,” Reddick said. “I’m really glad it was not worse.”
Noah Gragson, filling in for Alex Bowman in the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, will start seventh after making a lap at 179.474 mph.
Next weekend’s Round of 12 finale at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval will trim the playoff field to eight after Sunday’s Bank of America Roval 400 (2 p.m. ET, NBC, PRN, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio).