Bristol Motor Speedway starting lineup: Christopher Bell claims pole

Christopher Bell will lead the Cup Series field to the green flag at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday evening (6:30 p.m. ET on USA Network).

Bell won the pole with a lap of 126.997 mph. He made NASCAR history by becoming the first driver to win the pole for the first three playoff races.

“I mean, it doesn’t get much closer to that,” Bell said about his qualifying lap to NBC Sports’ Kim Coon. “What was it, a .109 to a .117? At Bristol, that’s just crazy tight. So really, really proud of this team. … All of the mechanics, all the engineers that work back at Joe Gibbs Racing putting this 20 car together are just doing an amazing job, and we’ve been able to show that through qualifying really all year long.

“So 500 laps tomorrow is an extremely long time. 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.”

Denny Hamlin will start second with a lap of 126.930 mph. William Byron will line up third with a lap of 126.345 mph. Michael McDowell (126.220 mph) and Martin Truex Jr. (126.154 mph) will round out the top five.

MORE: Bristol starting lineup

Brad Keselowski (125.963 mph), Chase Elliott (125.914 mph), Ty Gibbs (125.914 mph), Bubba Wallace (125.897 mph) and Corey LaJoie (125.625 mph) will round out the top 10.

The starting positions are pivotal for McDowell and Truex. Both are below the playoff cutline heading into the elimination race. These positions in the top five will give them the opportunity to pursue stage points.

Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano, the first two drivers above the cutline, will line up further back in the field as they battle Truex to move on to the Round of 12. Harvick will start 21st with a lap of 124.971 mph. Logano will start 28th with a lap of 124.468 mph.

Kyle Larson will start last in the field after his qualifying lap. He got loose in Turn 4 and nearly spun. He was able to collect the No. 5 but lost all of his momentum.

The green flag for Saturday’s race is scheduled to wave at 6:35 p.m. ET on USA Network. Pre-race coverage starts at 6:30 p.m. on USA Network.


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