Bell held off Kyle Larson to win the pole for Sunday’s playoff race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.
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.”
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.
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.
|22||19||Martin Truex Jr.||Toyota||2||53.504||0.387||0.004||178.977|
|25||47||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||Chevrolet||2||53.609||0.492||0.039||178.627|