SPARTA, Ky. — Kyle Benjamin has been no stranger to starting up front this year in the NASCAR XFINITY Series.
In all four of his previous starts, the 19-year-old Benjamin qualified on the front row and did again Saturday evening by winning the 21 Means 21 Pole Award for the VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 at Kentucky Speedway.
“It’s been a good year, I have a great team behind me,” Benjamin said. “They do a pretty good job preparing fast cars week in-and-out. I felt like we had a really strong qualifying car, wasn’t sure since we didn’t mock up in practice but felt like we’d be fast based on all other qualifying efforts this year. Can’t say enough about my guys for giving me the opportunity to try to do this.”
Benjamin was part of an all Joe Gibbs Racing front row as teammate Ryan Preece was the only other driver to dip into the 182 mph range to make it a clean sweep in qualifying for JGR.
“I think our Hurricane Relief Toyota Camry is going to be pretty good tonight,” Benjamin said. “I think the track is going to free up, I felt like we’ve done the best job to kind of realizing that in practice and not being too free. I feel like we’ll have a really strong car tonight, even better than what we had in qualifying.”
The last time these two drivers were in the series was racing side-by-side for the win at Iowa Speedway in July and now share the two best qualifying times.
Cole Custer led all playoff drivers in third and was fastest in the second round of qualifying. Joining him in row two is another title contender in Justin Allgiaer (fourth) as Tyler Reddick completed the top-five.
Defending race winner Elliott Sadler was sixth, then followed by Daniel Hemric, Brennan Poole, Matt Tifft and Brian Scott making his return to the XFINITY Series for Richard Childress Racing.
William Byron qualified 12th for Saturday night’s race after winning the Kentucky Truck event last year. Ryan Reed missed the final round cut and stats 13th, one of five drivers unable to contend for the pole. Former Kentucky winner Brendan Gaughan was 16th with Blake Koch (17th) and Michael Annett (18th) right behind.
Jeremy Clements was the slowest of the 12 playoff drivers in 25th as all 40 cars entered will race.
The green flag for the VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 drops shortly after 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM ch. 90)