As Cole Custer, the final car to turn a lap in the second round of NASCAR Cup Series qualifying at Martinsville Speedway, crossed the line to secure the third spot on the starting grid for Saturday night’s Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400, the fans erupted in cheers.
The reason? Custer missing the pole meant that the sport’s most popular driver, Chase Elliott, had secured his first Busch Light Pole position of 2022, and it’s the Georgia-native’s first NASCAR Cup Series pole since Phoenix in March of 2020.
Elliott’s quick lap was a 19.694 second circuit around the 0.526-mile oval, which equates to a 96.151 mph lap. The lap was more than one tenth of a second faster than the runner-up Aric Almirola.
While the 26-year old is excited to start on the pole on Saturday night, he’s even more excited to secure the first pit stall.
“The bigger thing, I think, than the starting spot itself is the pit selection,” Elliott explained after recording his 10th-career pole. “Having that first pit stall, I think is a really big deal and can lend you a lot of opportunity to gain spots on pit road.”
Behind Elliott, Almirola and Custer was Chris Buescher in fourth and William Byron, who won Thursday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race recorded the fifth-best time in Round 2.
Kevin Harvick, Christopher Bell, Kyle Larson, Brad Keselowski and rookie contender Todd Gilliland will round out the top-10 starters for Saturday night’s Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400.