Photo courtesy of Stacy Revere | Getty Images
Looking to play spoiler once again and make it back-to-back wins after dominating last weekend’s race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Kyle Larson will lead the NASCAR Cup Series field to green Sunday for the Xfinity 500 at Martinsville Speedway (2 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Larson threw down a hot lap of 19.709 seconds around the 0.526-mile Virginia short track to take his 14th career pole and fourth of the season.
Playoff drivers Chase Elliott and Chase Briscoe will start second and third, respectively, dropping identical lap times of 19.721 seconds. Elliott, the 2022 regular season champion, enters Sunday with just an 11-point advantage above the elimination line. Meanwhile, Briscoe is in a must-win scenario as he enters the penultimate race of the season 44 points below the cutline.
Ryan Blaney sits 18 points below the cutline but will start fourth. Cole Custer rounded out the top five in qualifying.
Brad Keselowski, Daniel Suárez, Kevin Harvick, Ross Chastain and Harrison Burton make up the rest of the top 10 in Sunday’s starting lineup.
Denny Hamlin (-5 cutline) and Joey Logano (into Champ 4) will start just outside the top 10 in Row 6.
Two playoff drivers will have their backs against the wall as both Christopher Bell (-33) and William Byron (+5) start 20th and 25th respectively. Byron did win the Martinsville Cup race in the spring but with track position at a premium Sunday, it will be tough for either driver to work their way to the front of the field.
Hamlin and Blaney put down the single fastest laps in Saturday’s practice session, while Blaney had the best 10-lap average.
Both Bell and Byron posted averages inside the top 10 but will only be able to find that same speed Sunday if they can get through the mid-field traffic.
10 lap-average in practice