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Bell wins Talladega Cup pole in eventful qualifying session

Bell held off Kyle Larson to win the pole for Sunday’s playoff race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.

Bell’s average lap speed of 180.591 mph just edged Larson (180.516 mph). Bell’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin slotted in third (180.421 mph).

With two races remaining in the second round of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, Bell is ranked 11th out of 12th drivers in the standings.

Following the Oct. 9 race at the Charlotte Roval, the four lowest drivers in points without a win in the round will be eliminated from further playoff competition.

The pole is Bell’s fourth of the 2022 season and his career.

“We’re in the best spot (to capitalize), that’s for sure,” Bell said. “We need to make up a lot of points over these next two races. Hopefully, we can maintain our track position.

“Talladega has been maybe a little bit better for me than Daytona so, yeah, just really proud of everyone on his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing team. They’ve done a really good job bringing fast race cars, week-in and week-out.

“We have to score points in Stage 1 and Stage 2 and then obviously finish up as high as we can in the race. We’re going to be after it hard. I’ll have to see if I can do my job and keep it up front.”

Aric Almirola ended up fourth and Chase Briscoe rounded out the top-five.

Completing the top-10 lineup are Ross Chastain, Noah Gragson (filling in for Alex Bowman), Tyler Reddick, William Byron and Ty Gibbs, although Gibbs’s No. 23 Toyota may require repairs and he could lose his starting position on Sunday.

Cla # Driver Manufacturer Laps Time Gap Interval Mph
1 20 United States Christopher Bell Toyota 2 53.026     180.591
2 5 United States Kyle Larson Chevrolet 2 53.048 0.022 0.022 180.516
3 11 United States Denny Hamlin Toyota 2 53.076 0.050 0.028 180.421
4 10 United States Aric Almirola Ford 2 53.166 0.140 0.090 180.115
5 14 United States Chase Briscoe Ford 2 53.268 0.242 0.102 179.770
6 1 United States Ross Chastain Chevrolet 2 53.320 0.294 0.052 179.595
7 48 United States Noah Gragson Chevrolet 2 53.356 0.330 0.036 179.474
8 8 United States Tyler Reddick Chevrolet 2 53.388 0.362 0.032 179.366
9 24 United States William Byron Chevrolet 2 53.434 0.408 0.046 179.212
10 23 Ty Gibbs Toyota        

Round 1

Hamlin, one of the last to qualify, set a blistering pace in the first round with an average lap speed of 180.281 mph.

Briscoe ended up second (179.993 mph) and Bell was third (179.905 mph). Larson was fourth and Chastain rounded out the top-five.

Also advancing to the final round were Reddick, Almirola, Gibbs, Byron and Gragson.

Following Reddick’s qualifying run, he brought his No. 8 Chevrolet down pit road but was not able to stop his car in time as he nosed towards the pit wall and struck a NASCAR official.

The official suffered minor injuries and damage was sustained to Reddick’s car, which may require repairs. If so, he will also lose his starting position and start Sunday’s race from the rear of the field.

“I went to the brakes and they were a little soft and I probably should have pumped them up a few times coming down pit road. I just screwed that up,” Reddick said.

“I’m really glad (the official) is doing OK. To me, that’s what’s important. I really don’t give a (expletive) about my race car. I’m glad it wasn’t any worse.”

During Gibbs’ qualifying run, smoke began billowing out around the right-front tire of his No. 23 Toyota. He completed his lap and posted a competitive speed.

The team eventually determined there was a fluid leak. Work will have to be performed on the car and Gibbs will end up having to start from the rear of the field in Sunday’s race.

11 22 United States Joey Logano Ford 2 53.422 0.305 0.007 179.252
12 43 United States Erik Jones Chevrolet 2 53.427 0.310 0.005 179.235
13 16 United States Daniel Hemric Chevrolet 2 53.433 0.316 0.006 179.215
14 99 Mexico Daniel Suarez Chevrolet 2 53.453 0.336 0.020 179.148
15 21 United States Harrison Burton Ford 2 53.459 0.342 0.006 179.128
16 9 United States Chase Elliott Chevrolet 2 53.461 0.344 0.002 179.121
17 2 United States Austin Cindric Ford 2 53.465 0.348 0.004 179.108
18 6 United States Brad Keselowski Ford 2 53.468 0.351 0.003 179.098
19 12 United States Ryan Blaney Ford 2 53.471 0.354 0.003 179.088
20 3 United States Austin Dillon Chevrolet 2 53.493 0.376 0.022 179.014
21 31 United States Justin Haley Chevrolet 2 53.500 0.383 0.007 178.991
22 19 United States Martin Truex Jr. Toyota 2 53.504 0.387 0.004 178.977
23 17 United States Chris Buescher Ford 2 53.551 0.434 0.047 178.820
24 4 United States Kevin Harvick Ford 2 53.570 0.453 0.019 178.757
25 47 United States Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Chevrolet 2 53.609 0.492 0.039 178.627
26 18 United States Kyle Busch Toyota 2 53.668 0.551 0.059 178.430
27 45 United States Bubba Wallace Toyota 2 53.680 0.563 0.012 178.390
28 41 United States Cole Custer Ford 2 53.709 0.592 0.029 178.294
29 34 United States Michael McDowell Ford 2 53.764 0.647 0.055 178.112
30 42 United States Ty Dillon Chevrolet 2 53.781 0.664 0.017 178.055
31 62 United States Justin Allgaier Chevrolet 2 53.862 0.745 0.081 177.788
32 7 United States Corey Lajoie Chevrolet 2 54.053 0.936 0.191 177.159
33 77 United States Landon Cassill Chevrolet 2 54.086 0.969 0.033 177.051
34 38 United States Todd Gilliland Ford 2 54.098 0.981 0.012 177.012
35 78 United States B.J. McLeod Ford 2 54.740 1.623 0.642 174.936
36 15 United States J.J. Yeley Ford 2 54.936 1.819 0.196 174.312
37 51 United States Cody Ware Ford 2 54.940 1.823 0.004 174.299
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