SPARTA, Ky. — Audio and report by Race Chaser Online Associate Editor Kyle Magda — ARCA photo —
A harmless spin during final ARCA practice wasn’t going to slow down William Byron.
Byron ran a fast lap of 30.435 seconds (177.427 mph) to claim his first career Menards Pole Award presented by Ansell at the Kentucky Speedway. He is joined by Daniel Suarez (175.610 mph) to make up an all Venturini Motorsports front row for Friday night’s Crosley Brands 150.
“We had a good car throughout the day and I think we worked on it throughout practice,” Byron said. “I was a little bit over-aggressive in practice and spun, but thank goodness we got another opportunity. I just went back to what I was doing: trust my instincts on qualifying, just make sure I wasn’t pushing it too hard. I think it was a really good lap. It went the way I wanted to and it worked out.”
The 17-year-old driver makes his superspeedway debut at Kentucky Speedway and drove the fastest speeds of his young career this week.
“It’s nerve-racking,” Byron said. “You know you’re turning a fast lap when you get to the rev limiter a lot quicker. I knew it was going to be good, but I thought maybe Daniel’s lap would be the same feeling. It’s good we ran that fast and I think that shows a lot about the speed of our car and how fast I’ve adapted.”
Suarez’s lap was nearly two mph slower than Byron’s pole-winning run. The No. 15 ARRIS Toyota starts alongside the No. 55 Liberty University Toyota when the green flag drops.
“Honestly, I feel like I wasn’t expected to be second place,” Suarez said. “I was too loose, way way too loose, but the car has so much speed now. It is better than practice and a couple of days ago in the test, so I feel like we’re moving in the right direction. Hopefully, we can make it a little bit better. If we can make it a just little bit better, I feel like we’re going to have a good shot for the race.”
He made his superspeedway debut in last year’s ARCA race at Kentucky and led 39 laps before finishing fifth for Venturini Motorsports.
“We have different intentions,” Suarez said. “I feel like I’m a different driver now. I feel like I have a little bit more experience with racing in the XFINITY Series. ”
Speaking of superspeedway debuts, another driver made his first laps on the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway this week. LOR winner Travis Braden brought his No. 01 West Virginia University Chevrolet to the Bluegrass State and timed in third-fastest.
Braden is looking to become the third driver to win in his first two ARCA starts.
“Today, we practiced top-five all day and we qualified third, so things are looking up for us,” Braden said. “I don’t know what we’ll have in the race. I think we’ve been honestly working on race-trim a lot more and doing a better job of it than all these other guys have or what it seems anyway all weekend, so I’m pretty excited about it.”
The Fords of 17-year-old Austin Cindric and Will Kimmel completed the top-five, meaning three of the top-five drivers are making their superspeedway debuts in the Crosley Brands 150: Byron, Braden and Cindric.
Michigan winner Ross Kenseth returns to ARCA for his second start of 2015 and was sixth quick (173.188 mph). Second-place points driver Josh Williams qualified seventh and ahead of current series point leader Grant Enfinger, who was 12th in the No. 23 GMS Racing Chevrolet.
The Fords of Noah Gragson, NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Ryan Reed and Kyle Weatherman’s Dodge rounded out the top-10. Ford took four spots in the top-10, with Lira Motorsports driver Chris Windom not far behind in 11th.
The qualifying session had a few hairy moments, especially when fastest man in practice, Brandon Jones, spun on his qualifying lap. As a result, Jones will start 30th in the race. K&N East championship contender Scott Heckert slapped the wall during his run and Tom Berte’s No. 20 Venturini Motorsports team didn’t turn a lap after banging up the car in a practice crash.
Heckert’s No. 43 team couldn’t fix the car, and the HScott Motorsports with Justin Marks squad packed up and headed home.
The green flag for the Crosley Brands 150 is scheduled to drop after 8 p.m. ET and will be shown live on TV on FOX Sports 1.
Of note: Sarah-Cornett Ching and Hoosier Superspeedway Challenge points leader Matt Kurzejewski qualified 13th and 14th, respectively, with another first-timer in Brandon Lynn rolling from off the 15th position in his Lira Motorsports ride.
Audio with pole-sitter William Byron:
Audio with second-place qualifier Daniel Suarez:
Audio with third-place qualifier Travis Braden:
STARTING GIRD: ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards; Crosley Brands 150; Kentucky Speedway; September 25, 2015
- William Byron
- Daniel Suarez
- Travis Braden
- Austin Cindric
- Will Kimmel
- Ross Kenseth
- Josh Williams
- Noah Gragson
- Ryan Reed
- Kyle Weatherman
- Chris Window
- Grant Enfinger
- Sarah Cornett-Ching
- Matt Kurzejewski
- Brandon Lynn
- Tom Hessert
- Bobby Gerhart
- David Levine
- Bo LeMastus
- Austin Wayne Self
- James Swanson
- Thomas Praytor
- Mark Meunier
- Darrell Basham
- Rick Clifton
- David Sear
- Tim Viens
- Con Nicolopoulos
- Josh White
- Brandon Jones
- Mike Harmon
- Ed Pompa
- Alx Danielsson
- Tom Berte
- Scott Heckert (will not start)
About the Writer
Kyle Magda is Race Chaser Online’s Associate Editor and a co-host of both Motorsports Madness and the Stock Car Steel/SRI Motorsports Show, airing at 7 p.m. ET on Monday and Thursday nights, respectively, on the Performance Motorsports Network. Magda broke into racing in mid-2001 as the sport’s tide was beginning to change towards the current modern-era formula, but still has an affinity for the history of NASCAR’s earlier days.
The 22-year-old currently studies print journalism at Penn State University and can be found traveling to numerous tracks across the country, covering everything from NASCAR and the ARCA Racing Series to the UNOH All-Stars Circuit of Champions and the Super Cup Stock Car Series.
Follow on Twitter: @KyleMagda
Email Kyle at: firstname.lastname@example.org