DOVER, Del. – Looking to get his NASCAR XFINITY Series playoff run back on track after a lackluster run at Kentucky Speedway, William Byron used a clean sweep of Coors Light Pole Qualifying to capture the top spot Saturday at Dover Int’l Speedway.
Byron topped all three knockout rounds and posted his fastest time in the final one, touring the one-mile concrete oval in 23.046 seconds (156.209 mph) and putting his No. 9 Axalta Chevrolet out front.
The pole-winning effort is the second of the young rookie’s XFINITY career.
“This place is so demanding; you’ve got to drive it to the very limit every lap in qualifying … and that’s what we were able to do right there,” said Byron. “The car was really good and responded to everything I needed it to do. I’m proud of all my guys at JR Motorsports and hopefully we can keep this going and execute all day long. If we can do that, I think we’ll have a great shot at the win later on.”
Byron will be chased to the green flag by a pair of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regulars in Daniel Suarez and Erik Jones, who put Joe Gibbs Racing second and third on the board, respectively.
Suarez’s lap of 23.084 seconds (155.952 mph) in the No. 18 Toyota allows him to share the front row with Byron, while Jones lines up on the inside of row two, alongside Byron’s JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier.
Kentucky winner Tyler Reddick completed the Fast Five for Chip Ganassi Racing.
Cole Custer was the fastest-qualifying Ford in sixth, ahead of Brennan Poole, Ryan Blaney, Daniel Hemric, Elliott Sadler, Ty Dillon and Ross Chastain among the drivers who advanced through all three knockout rounds.
Playoff contender Brendan Gaughan was the first driver below the cut line who failed to make the final round, starting 13th (23.392/153.899) in the No. 62 South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet.
“That lap made (crew chief) Shane Wilson happy, so I’m happy too,” said Gaughan. “We didn’t have to do the third round, which is good because I already had too many laps on my tires anyways.”
“I was just mad at myself for the first run I did in the second round. I wanted to smack my melon (head0 into the side of the wall because I messed up so badly. The second lap gave us a much better time. Our car is really good; I’m really happy with it and I think we’re going to race well.”
Other playoff drivers eliminated in the second round were Michael Annett (16th), Ryan Reed (17th), Blake Koch (19th), Jeremy Clements (22nd) and Matt Tifft (23rd).
A flat tire prevented Tifft from posting a time in the second round and will relegate him to the rear of the field for the start of Saturday afternoon’s race, due to tire changes after qualifying being unapproved adjustments.
J.J. Yeley made a second run in the first round, but just was edged out at the end of the 20-minute clock and will start 25th (23.777/151.407) in the No. 14 Toyota for TriStar Motorsports.
“I was a little bit loose on my first run out,” Yeley explained. “We did a few things to tighten the car up and (my crew) said ‘If you run (a 23.80) you’ll be good. I ran a 23.77 and the 3 (Ty Dillon) and the 11 (Koch) went back out and just went a little quicker.”
“For us, it’s just a starting position. Our qualifying efforts haven’t been what they were last year, but our car handled really, really good yesterday in practice … and that’s big at Dover. Hopefully that will carry over to the race. We’ll just see what happens.”
The ‘Use Your Melon’ Drive Sober 200 kicks off at 2:30 p.m., live on NBCSN, the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.
Full qualifying results can be viewed on the next page…