John Hunter Nemechek wins Xfinity pole at Phoenix; Christopher Bell to start from rear

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John Hunter Nemechek won the pole for today’s Xfinity Series playoff race at ISM Raceway (3:30 p.m. ET on NBC) with a top speed of 133.482 mph.

It is Nemechek’s first Xfinity Series pole.

“It feels good,” Nemechek told NBCSN. “We came here with the mindset to try and qualify on the pole. … We unloaded not really good yesterday so we only got to do one mock (qualifying) run and it wasn’t that great.”

The pole comes a day after Chip Ganassi Racing announced Ross Chastain will drive its No. 42 Xfinity car full-time next season.

The top five is completed by Cole Custer (playoffs), Austin Cindric (playoffs), Justin Allgaier (playoffs) and Ryan Preece.

Playoff drivers Elliott Sadler (sixth), Daniel Hemric (eighth) and Matt Tifft (10th) also qualified within in the top 12.

Tyler Reddick (14th) was the only playoff driver who made a qualifying attempt to not advance to final round.

Playoff contender Christopher Bell did not make a qualifying attempt in Round 1 after his No. 20 Toyota did not make it through inspection in time to make a lap. Bell’s car failed inspection three times, resulting in the ejection of car chief Chris Sherwood.

Bell enters the elimination race 34 points out of the final transfer spot and in essentially a must-win situation to advance to Miami.

“Well the good thing is (Miami) doesn’t decide on where we start, it decides on where we finish,” Bell told NBCSN. “We got 200 laps, which is an eternity, especially from what I grew up doing in sprint car racing. Got a bunch of pit stops in there and a fast car to make it up. We’ll be fine.”

Bell said the car is the same one he took to Victory Lane in both Richmond races this season.

“This is probably the fastest car we’ve brought to the race track all year-long compared to the field,” Bell said.

Ty Majeski and Josh Bilicki also did not make attempts. Majeski’s car also failed inspection three times.

Click here for the starting lineup.