Momentum is a hell of a thing in NASCAR. Austin Cindric has it rolling as he captured his first-career NASCAR Cup Series pole on Saturday less than a week after his first-career NASCAR Cup Series race win in last Sunday’s Daytona 500.
Cindric, a 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Rookie of the Year contender, turned the top lap in Round 2 of qualifying with a lap of 41.226 seconds, which equates to 174.647 mph.
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This marks the first time since 2015 that the winner of the Daytona 500 has gone on to win the pole in the second race of the season. Joey Logano, Cindric’s Team Penske teammate, was the last driver to accomplish this feat.
While Cindric has momentum on his side, many others are looking to get some of their own going.
How about Petty GMS Motorsports’ Erik Jones? The driver of the No. 43 car scored the second-fastest lap of the second round of qualifying and will start alongside Cindric on the front row in Sunday’s Wise Power 400.
Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Daniel Hemric rounded out the top-five fastest in the final round of qualifying on Sunday.
While Cindric snagged the pole, it was a chaotic day at Auto Club Speedway for others, as nine drivers were swept up in incidents in the small amount of on-track activity for the NASCAR Cup Series.
In practice, Kevin Harvick got things started by backing his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing machine into the turn 4 wall on his opening lap of practice. After some deliberation, the team opted to fix the car instead of rolling out the backup car.
Ross Chastain wasn’t so fortunate. The driver of the No. 1 Trackhouse car went for a wild ride in practice as his car shot head-on into the turn 4 wall shortly after Harvick’s incident.
Chris Buescher, Bubba Wallace and Christopher Bell also had incidents in practice.
In qualifying, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, William Byron and Chase Elliott all either spun or slapped the wall with their race cars. Aric Almirola nearly joined the list as he got loose off of turn 4 but was able to wrangle his racecar.