Kyle Benjamin wins pole for Xfinity playoff opener at Kentucky

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Kyle Benjamin won his second Xfinity Series pole of the season for Saturday night’s playoff opener at Kentucky Speedway.

Benjamin, making his fifth start of the year for Joe Gibbs Racing, won the pole with a top speed of 182.229 mph around the 1.5-mile track.

Benjamin has started on the front row in all five of his starts. The driver of the No. 18 will be joined on the front row by teammate Ryan Preece, who is looking for his second win in three starts this year.

“It’s been a good year, I’ve got a great time behind me,” Benjamin told NBCSN. “I felt like we had a real strong qualifying car. Wasn’t sure, since we didn’t mock in practice. But I felt like we would be fast based on our qualifying efforts this year.”

Cole Custer will start third as the top qualifying playoff driver.

The top five is completed by Justin Allgaier and Tyler Reddick.

Elliott Sadler will start sixth followed by Daniel Hemric, Brennan Poole and Matt Tifft.

Ryan Reed qualified 13th. Brendan Gaughan will start 16th, followed by Blake Koch and Michael Annett.

Sam Hornish Jr. will start 15th in Team Penske’s No. 22 Ford.

Jeremy Clements qualified 25th. He is the only playoff driver who will start outside the top 24.

“We were extremely tight,” Clements told NBCSN. “It’s unfortunate, we didn’t want to start off like this. I waited until the very last minute to go to make sure we got rid of the ARCA rubber out there and get some of the Goodyear rubber. When you do that and your car’s no good and you only get one shot at it, we messed up. We got a hole to dig out of tonight. We’re going to give it all we’ve got. We have to. Got nothing to lose at this point.”

The first round saw multiple cars, including many playoff drivers, be slow getting through pre-qualifying inspection due to the sun interfering in the laser-inspection station.

Teams held a black tarp in front of the cars in order to keep the sun from interfering.

All cars got through inspection and were able to make a lap.

Click here for qualifying results.