Christopher Bell earned his first career NASCAR Cup Series pole for Sunday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Bell (182.673 mph) turned the fastest lap among the 10 drivers that advanced to the final round of Saturday’s qualifying on the 1.5-mile oval.
“I haven’t got to qualify very much in my Cup career, so I tell you what, that’s a hell of a lot more fun than qualifying the 550 (horsepower) package though,” Bell told Fox Sports.
“I feel really good about our (car), that’s for sure. In practice, it took probably two runs to get the balance where I was comfortable. But I knew our first run out, I felt like we were pretty competitive.
“I’m really happy with where we’re at. I love Las Vegas. I wish it was going to be a little bit warmer so we could slide around a little bit more, but Vegas always put on a great race.”
Kyle Larson was fastest in the preceding practice session and was last to make a run in the final round of qualifying.
He couldn’t quite match Bell’s best, but his lap of 182.014 mph was still good enough to put him on the outside front row for Sunday.
Daytona 500 winner Austin Cindric qualified third (181.794 mph), giving him three consecutive top-five starts to open the season.
Cindric will be joined on Row 2 by Chase Briscoe (181.733 mph). His fourth-place starting position will be his best on an oval in his Cup career.
Like last week at Auto Club Speedway, windy conditions greeted drivers and teams for Saturday’s practice session that preceded qualifying.
Unlike last week, which had two 15-minute group practice sessions, this week had a single 35-minute practice session for all entries in an effort to provide more track time.
In the opening minutes, Kyle Busch suffered a flat left rear tire entering Turn 3 and spun into the SAFER Barrier. His primary No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota took heavy rear-end damage.
Trouble for Kyle Busch!
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Soon after, JGR confirmed that Kyle Busch will go to a backup car for Sunday. He did not make an attempt to qualify. Fox Sports reported in its broadcast that the backup car was not close to being race-ready, as it was meant to be a “parts car” for JGR to harvest from during the West Coast races.
In regards to consecutive lap average speed, Larson was fastest over 10 laps, followed by Byron, Blaney, Alex Bowman and Bell.
Green flag for the Pennzoil 400 is scheduled for Sunday at 3:49 p.m. ET. Coverage is on FOX.