Another week, another pole for Bell at Bristol

Christopher Bell is perfect in poles through the first round of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs after earning the top spot for the third consecutive week Friday night at Bristol Motor Speedway.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver’s pole-winning lap was 126.997mph (15.109s) — his ninth career pole and first at Bristol.

Denny Hamlin made it an all JGR front row by qualifying second, clocking in at 126.930mph.

“It doesn’t get much closer to that,” Bell said of beating his teammate. “What was it, a 0.109s to a 0.117s at Bristol? That’s crazy tight. Really, really proud of this team. All the mechanics, all the engineers that work back at Joe Gibbs Racing and putting this No. 20 car together are just doing an amazing job, and we’ve been able to show that through qualifying really all year long.


“500 laps tomorrow is an extremely long time, and if I’ve learned anything, I’ve learned that qualifying means nothing for the race. But we’ve got a great pit stall again, great starting spot. Man, I’m excited. I love this racetrack; it’s one of my favorites.”

William Byron qualified third at 126.345mph, Michael McDowell fourth at 126.220mph and Martin Truex Jr. fifth at 126.154mph.

Brad Keselowski qualified sixth at 125.963mph, Chase Elliott seventh at 125.914mph, Ty Gibbs eighth at 125.914mph, Bubba Wallace ninth at 125.897mph and Corey LaJoie completed the top 10 at 125.625mph.

All four Joe Gibbs Racing drivers qualified inside the top 10 and, with Wallace’s 23XI Camry in ninth, Toyota chalked up their best final round of qualifying since Charlotte 2022 when they claimed five of the top seven spots.

The rest of the playoff drivers in qualifying were Ryan Blaney 11th, Tyler Reddick 12th, Kyle Busch 15th, Chris Buescher 20th, Kevin Harvick 21st, Ross Chastain 23rd, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 25th, Joey Logano 28th, and Kyle Larson 36th.

Larson got loose during his qualifying lap and had to chase his Chevrolet through the corner.

Buescher is the defending race winner at Bristol.

There are 36 drivers entered in the Bass Pro Shops Night Race. The race has been moved up by one hour to 6:30 p.m. ET Saturday due to the threat of inclement weather.


Story originally appeared on Racer