William Byron wins Coca-Cola 600 pole at home track of Charlotte Motor Speedway
Charlotte, N.C., native William Byron became the youngest Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series pole sitter at his home track of Charlotte Motor Speedway on Thursday when he posted a 29.440-second/183.424 mph lap to claim the pole for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600. The pole for the Cup Series’ longest race will be the second-career pole, both coming this year, for the 21 year old.
“It means a lot,” Byron said. “Obviously, to win the pole here is a good first step to the weekend, but it means a lot just being here and sitting in this room before racing here when you think what it’s like to go around the big track, let alone win something at it. So it’s been a good couple of weeks. Hopefully, it just continues and we can keep that momentum going, which is definitely on our side. I’m excited for it, and that number one pit stall will pay huge dividends later in the race, for sure.”
Aric Almirola qualified second to start his Ford alongside Byron’s Chevrolet on the the front row.
“I got everything I could out of it,” Almirola said. "If somebody else gets in there, maybe they might be able to do something different, but I felt like I got everything I could out of it. Surprisingly, it was a handful to drive, so I’m proud of that lap.”
Kyle Busch qualified his Toyota third, giving all three manufacturers representation in the top-three spots on the starting grid. He’ll share the second row with Austin Dillon.
Almirola went out early in the qualifying session -- sixth out of 40 drivers and claimed the provisional pole early. He maintained his spot atop the scoring pylon until Byron went out 29th in the qualifying order and knocked Almirola from the top.
At one point, Ford drivers were in the top-five provisional positions, with four of those spots being held by Almirola and his Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Kevin Harvick, Daniel Suarez and Clint Bowyer. By the end of qualifying, Harvick was fifth, Suarez seventh and Bowyer eighth.
“We’ve definitely found the speed, and, in my opinion, you have to have speed and you have to able to lead laps to consistently win races,” Harvick, still searching for his first win of the season, said. ”We still are fine-tuning where we need to be on the handling of our cars, because we’re still going to a lot of these places for the first time and knowing what you can and can’t do, and I think you can’t do a lot of the things you did in Kansas here today for sure, compared to what you could do there. So we’re still learning where the limits are, but our guys are doing a good job. Today, we were horrible in practice with all the things we tried and just kind of went off of what we did last week for qualifying and wound up being okay.”
In all, six Fords qualified in the top-10, with Joey Logano and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. joining the SHR camp with qualifying runs of seventh and ninth.
Daniel Hemric also wound up in the top-10, qualifying 10th, third among Chevrolet drivers. Busch was the only Toyota driver to qualify in the top-10.