DOVER, Del. — Martin Truex Jr. qualified a spot better than he did in June at Dover Int’l Speedway.
And the slight improvement was good enough to win the pole for Sunday’s Apache Warrior 400 in a Cup elimination race for the 16 playoff drivers. Truex turned a time of 22.407 seconds (160.664 mph) to score his second Coors Light Pole Award of 2017.
“Welp, I’m glad for once we’re first and he’s not,” Truex said. “I’ve been second to him a lot in qualifying, so it’s cool to – for us to get a pole. I think he was second, am I correct? Yeah, so it’s – we’ve been on the front row quite a few times together, so feels good that we’re the one in first this time, so it’s pretty cool.”
Truex started alongside Kyle Busch in the spring at the Monster Mile, but the roles were reversed this time. Busch held the provisional pole at 22.445 seconds until the Furniture Row Racing driver topped him moments after running his lap and spoiling a third straight pole for the 2015 cup champ.
“Hate it that we didn’t come out of here with our ninth pole of the season, but we’ll take it,” Busch said. “It’s a front row starting spot, but hopefully it’ll be a good enough pit selection. Obviously, there’s no better position than number one. We’ve been on a really good roll here as of late with qualifying and everything like that for this year. The M&M’s Caramel Camry has got some good speed in it.”
“I was a little worried that I wasn’t going to have the speed that we needed to contend for a pole, but obviously we had it here right now when it mattered.”
Kyle Larson broke up the Toyota party in third (159.986 mph) as the fastest Chevrolet driver. Larson led 241 laps in June’s race before getting beat by Jimmie Johnson on a late-race restart.
“You always want to qualify well especially here, pit selection is important and track position as well,” Larson said. “So, the No. 78 and the No. 18 have been really good and we have been right with them, so, we will work on race trim for tomorrow and hopefully be good on Sunday.”
Matt Kenseth starts fourth while Daniel Suarez was the highest non-playoff driver in fifth. Denny Hamlin (sixth) made it four JGR cars in the first six spots.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. challenged Truex’s fast lap until losing time in Turns 3 and 4 and ended up seventh for his final Dover race.
Ryan Newman, Kevin Harvick and Erik Jones completed the rest of the top-10. Ryan Blaney (11th) and Chase Elliott (12th) were the other two playoff drivers who made the final round of qualifying.
Kurt Busch (13th) was the first driver to miss the cut for the last round, being joined by fellow Ford driver Aric Almirola in the seventh row. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Brad Keselowski will start alongside each other in the next row, followed by seven-time Cup champ Jimmie Johnson in 17th.
All 40 cars entered will start Sunday’s race as next up for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is the first of two practices Saturday at 10:30 a.m. ET (CNBC, MRN and SiriusXM Ch. 90)
Full qualifying results can be viewed on the next page…