Chase Elliott rockets to the NASCAR Cup pole in Martinsville

Elliott posted the fastest average lap speed in Friday’s practice session but was the fourth-fastest lap in his group in the first round of the playoffs.

The 9-ranked Hendrick Motorsports team didn’t punch any punches in the second round, coming out late and turning a lap at 96.151 mph – the fastest by any driver on Friday.

The pole is the first of the 2022 season for Elliott, who leads the series standings but remains the only HMS driver without a year so far this year. He is also the tenth pole of his career.

“When (they told me the time) I thought someone could get there. It honestly surprised me that it was that fast,” Elliott said. “I thought I had a good lap but it wasn’t a good lap.

“Nice to grab a pole – it’s been a long time. So proud of Alan (Gustafson, Chief Crew) and our team to keep pushing and coming back strong this weekend. Hopefully we can get the right car tomorrow night.

“The biggest thing from the starting point itself is pit selection and having the first pit stall. It’s a big deal and makes for a lot of spots on the pit road.”

Aric Almirola finished second with a lap of 95,641 mph and Cole Custer finished third with a lap of 95,598 mph). Chris Bucher and William Byron rounded out the top five.

Completing the top 10 in Saturday night’s race was Kevin Harvick, Christopher Bell, Kyle Larson, Brad Keselowski and Todd Gilliland.

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group b

Custer was the surprising fastest in the second set with an average lap speed of 96.005—the fastest lap of the day at the time.

Gilliland finished second (95.961 mph) and Kiselowski was third (95.932 mph). Elliott and Boecher finished the top five and advanced to round two.

Among those who failed to qualify for the final were the three Penske drivers – Joey Logano, Austin Cendrick and Ryan Blaney as well as Martin Truex Jr., who has won three of Martinsville’s last five races.

Group A

Harvick came out late and shot to the top of the speed chart with an average seed average of 95,743 mph to lead the first group.

Larson – who only ran one lap – finished second (95,530 mph) and Byron finished third (95.468 mph). Almerola and Bell completed the top five and advanced to round two.

Among those who failed to qualify for the final round were Denny Hamlin, Bubba Wallace, Kurt Busch and Tyler Riddick.

AJ Allmendinger’s College Racing Chevrolet #16 failed the pre-qualifying examination three times. As a result, team engineer Michael Brooks was kicked off the track and Allmendinger was not allowed to qualify.

The number 16 will have to send a penalty pass after receiving the green flag in Saturday night’s race.

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