Chase Elliott has always been strong when it comes to the NASCAR Cup Series at Watkins Glen International, scoring back-to-back victories at the road course in 2018 and 2019 the beginning of a streak of three top-two results.
That’s why his performance in Saturday’s group qualifying session from the 2.45-mile road course isn’t much of a surprise, as the Hendrick Motorsports driver picked up his third pole position of the season and the 12th of his NASCAR Cup Series career.
Elliott posted a time of 70.477 seconds (125.147mph) in the final round of qualifying to barely capture the top spot over teammate Kyle Larson, who will start Sunday’s 90-lap contest from the runner-up spot.
Michael McDowell, looking for his second career victory in the NASCAR Cup Series in order to earn a berth into the Playoffs, broke up the Hendrick Motorsports party at the front of the field, qualifying his Front Row Motorsports entry in third place.
William Byron, the polesitter for Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series event, will start in fourth, with two-time road course winner Tyler Reddick completing the top-five qualifiers.
AJ Allmendinger, Chris Buescher, Austin Cindric, Daniel Suarez, and Kyle Busch will round out the top-10 starters for Sunday’s penultimate regular-season race.
Other notable drivers, included: Alex Bowman (11th), Chase Briscoe (14th), Ross Chastain (18th), Joey Logano (20th), Denny Hamlin (22nd), Kevin Harvick (24th), Martin Truex Jr. (25th), Ryan Blaney (26th), and Christopher Bell (38th).
Christopher Bell – winner at New Hampshire – will start from the rear of the field, after blowing an engine in practice. The blown engine left oil on the track, causing Ty Gibbs to crash into the tire barriers, who rebounded to start 16th.
Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series event at Watkins Glen will feature a great deal of international flavor, with six drivers born outside of the United States competing.
Daniel Suarez will start the best of the six drivers in ninth, while Kimi Raikkonen – Formula 1 Champion, driving Trackhouse Racing’s PROJECT91 entry – will start 27th, Mike Rockenfeller 33rd, Loris Hezemans 34th, Daniil Kvyat 36th, and Kyle Tilley 37th.