TALLADEGA, Ala. – Kyle Larson will be on the front row for Sunday’s 500-mile NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway.
Larson’s lap of 180.516 mph in the final round of qualifying in his No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 was good for second on the starting grid.
Noah Gragson, who is filling in for Alex Bowman, will line up seventh in the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. Bowman is out this weekend after experienced concussion-like symptoms following an accident in the Sept. 25 at Texas Motor Speedway.
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William Byron will take to the grid from the ninth spot in his No. 24 RaptorTough.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. On Friday during pre-qualifying inspection, the No. 24 team failed twice. As a result, car chief Tyler Jones was ejected for the remainder of the race weekend. The team also loses its pit stall selection for Sunday’s race.
Chase Elliott lines up 16th in the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. Elliott has a win at the Alabama venue from the spring of 2019 – one of 13 wins at the track for the Rick Hendrick-owned organization.
Christopher Bell nabbed the pole position and will start on the front row with Larson.
Coming into this race - the middle event in the Round of 12 - Larson (+23) and Elliott (+11) are each above the cutoff line in third and seventh, respectively, in the standings. Byron (-8) sits just below the line in 10th following a 25-point penalty – currently under appeal - from the race at Texas Motor Speedway. Bowman sits in 12th and 26 points below the elimination line.
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In this year’s spring race at the sport’s biggest oval, Hendrick Motorsports led 70 of the 188 laps (37%). Byron paced the field for a race-high 38 circuits and won stage two, while Larson held the point position for 32 laps. Larson (4.77), Byron (4.87) and Elliott (7.84) had three of the four best average running positions in the race. The team spent 44% of their laps running in the top five and 72% percent of their laps in the top 10. At the end of the day, three of its drivers finished in the top 10 with Larson finishing fourth (his best career result on a superspeedway), Elliott placing seventh and Bowman taking ninth. This marked the fourth time in team history that at least three of its drivers placed in the top 10 at Talladega.
In the season’s five drafting races with the 2022 superspeedway rules package – two at Daytona International Speedway, one at Talladega and two at Atlanta Motor Speedway – Hendrick Motorsports has won twice. Byron and Elliott earned wins at Atlanta in March and July, respectively. In fact, Byron (192 laps led) and Elliott (156 laps led) rank first and second in laps led on drafting tracks this season.
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Tune in for the middle race of the Round of 12 on Sunday, Oct. 2, at 2 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.