With a 26.065-second/138.116 mph lap late in the 38-car NASCAR Cup Series pole qualifying session at Phoenix Raceway on Saturday, Chase Elliott claimed the pole for Sunday’s Fanshield 500, the fourth race of the 2020 season and the third and final race of the West Coast Swing. It’s the ninth-career pole for the driver of the #9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.
Ford driver Kevin Harvick qualified second to join Elliott on the front row, and Toyota driver Denny Hamlin qualified third, giving all three active manufacturers in the series representation in the top-three positions of the starting grid.
“The line through turns one and and was a lot different. Kevin kind of made the top work, and then, I think after that, everyone saw that and moved up, so it’s great to get a pole,” Elliott said. “We’re in a little bit different colors this week with Unifirst on our Camaro, so I’m excited to grab them a pole. It’s always a good thing when you can put down a fast lap. Hopefully, I just hope tomorrow goes good. That’s always the challenge. We’ll see, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Kyle Larson qualified fourth to share the second row with Hamlin, while Ryan Blaney and Aric Almirola were fifth and sixth to start Sunday’s race in row three.
“Harvick went up into the PJ-1, so I went up there too,” Larson said. “I don’t know if it was better or not; maybe a touch better I felt like. If I had another attempt at it, I could have gone a lot faster. So far, it’s better than I thought it would be, so that’s good.”
365体育投注APPEven though all three manufacturers are present in the top-three of the starting grid, and only two Toyotas are in the top-10 with qualifying complete, as Kyle Busch joined Hamlin in the 10th position, Toyota was dominant through the first half of Saturday’s qualifying session.
365体育投注APPErik Jones went out third and sat on the provisional pole until Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Hamlin knocked him from the provisional top spot. When Hamlin was atop the scoring pylon, Toyota drivers were first through fourth. Hamlin’s time at the top was short-lived, though, as Harvick went out two cars later and held the top spot until Elliott went out 31st in the qualifying order and posted what would become the pole-winning lap.
Jones wound up 11th, followed by another JGR teammate, Martin Truex Jr., in 12th. Truex, though, will have to start in the back as a result of an engine change.
“It’s not what we hoped for, obviously,” Truex said. “It’s one of those things that you can’t change. Just try to do the best we can with it. We’ve had a rough couple races, but the team has been doing a great job, and our cars have been fast. Those are the positives. Hopefully, we come out of here with a strong day tomorrow. I wasn’t real happy with our car yesterday, but we made a lot of changes overnight, and it felt much better, there. We’ll see what happens.”