TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 23, 2022) – Joe Gibbs Racing driver Christopher Bell earned his second career top-starting spot with a lap of 180.92 mph during KLĒNSKIN Pole Qualifying at Talladega Superspeedway on Saturday morning – just edging his teammate Martin Truex Jr., by a scant .081-second.
The all-JGR Toyota front row marks the first time the team has swept top qualifying honors (in a qualifying session) at the 2.66-mile venue. The teammates will lead the field to green in Sunday’s GEICO 500 (3 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The weather forecast is
“I can’t say I got anything [picking up speed] that was all my crew guys. I’m just very thankful to be in the position I am driving for Joe Gibbs Racing,’’ said Bell, whose best Talladega finish in four starts is fifth in last fall’s race.
“We’ve got a great team and this one is a pretty big thank you to [executive] Andy Graves at TRD (Toyota Racing Development). We ride him pretty hard, but I’ll give this engine a 10, Andy.’’
Asked if he thought the wind gusts at the track ultimately made a difference in his pole-winning speed, the 27-year-old smiled and said, “it didn’t hurt.’’
“Even from the first round to the second round I could tell my RPMs picked up really big going down the back straightaway then they were pretty flat going down the front straightaway, so I don’t’ know if it was an advantage to me, but definitely didn’t hurt,’’ said Bell, whose previous pole position came in March at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The 2021 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Daniel Hemric – held the top qualifying position until the final two cars in the second round (Truex and Bell) and will start third in the No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet. Daniel Suárez was fourth fastest in the No. 99 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet and reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Larson was fifth fastest in the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports. None of these top-five qualifiers has ever won a NASCAR Cup Series race at the track.
Toyota drivers Kurt Busch and Denny Hamlin, Chevrolet’s William Byron, Toyota’s Bubba Wallace and Chevrolet’s Tyler Reddick rounded out the top-10 for Sunday’s grid.
Of note, the top qualifying Ford driver was Joey Logano, who will roll off 13th in the No. 22 Team Penske Mustang on Sunday. Defending race winner, Brad Keselowski will start his No. 6 Roush Fenway Keselowski Ford from 15th position on the grid.
Keselowski is the winningest driver in the field with six victories.
BUBBA WALLACE RETURNS TO TRACK OF FIRST CUP VICTORY
Bubba Wallace earned his first career NASCAR Cup Series victory at Talladega Superspeedway in last fall’s YellaWood 500, yet the driver of the No. 23 23XI Toyota said he can’t help but re-live the huge moment in his career. Often. And it is a huge motivation this week.
“To be honest with you, I sit here and think about it a lot and people put so much emphasis on the win,’’ said Wallace, who advanced to final round qualifying and will start ninth for Sunday’s race.
“We talk about it, talk about it, talk about it and it builds up. I just like to keep it low key under the radar. That’s how I like to roll about life. Some people may disagree, but it is special to be here. I’m excited.
“I know how good our speedway cars are and if [spotter] Freddie [Kraft] and I do what we can do at these speedway races like we’ve been doing then, I know we will have a shot to win. It’s a team effort. … As long as we stay in the race and maintain where we are at and just have a fighting chance, it will be a good day.
“That’s what I look forward to the most.’’
The ‘Next Gen’ car will see its first action on Talladega’s high banks in the GEICO 500. Debuting in the season-opening DAYTONA 500, the Next Gen car is designed to give the drivers greater control and put an emphasis back on race strategies, team personnel and vehicle setups while returning the ‘stock car’ look to NASCAR. So far this season, the race cars that look more like street version vehicles, have put on incredible racing with rave reviews from fans.
Guests who have a Sunday GEICO 500 ticket will get admission to the traditional Saturday Night Infield Concert featuring country music artist Riley Green.
To see all weekend admission opportunities, visit www.talladegasuperspeedway.com or call 1-877-Go2-DEGA. Several options await fans like the fan-favorite 140,000 square-foot Talladega Garage Experience, which includes up-close access to Garage Viewing Walkways, Pre-Race Ceremonies and Ruoff Mortgage Victory Lane. In addition, there are hospitality areas such as Fan Suites, Premium Box seating, and Busch Balcony, along with incredible Kid’s programming.
Fans are encouraged to keep up with all the happenings at the biggest, baddest race track on the planet by following Talladega Superspeedway on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, as well as the all-new NASCAR Tracks Apps.
About Talladega Superspeedway
Talladega Superspeedway is the most competitive racetrack on the NASCAR schedule (record 88 lead changes in 188 laps), the highest-banked (33 degrees) and the longest (2.66 miles), as well as the most fun and fan-friendly. Three- and four-wide racing at 200 mph are a norm at Talladega Superspeedway, along with nail-biting, photo finishes. For information, visit www.talladegasuperspeedway.com or call 1-877-Go2-DEGA.