As the NASCAR Cup Series begins to approach the summer stretch of racing, Toyota has brought some major speed to the track, as was evident in Saturday’s qualifying session from Darlington Raceway, where the manufacturer swept the front row.
Martin Truex, Jr., who snapped a 50-plus race winless streak at Dover, will start from the pole in Sunday’s Goodyear 400, after posting the quickest lap in the final round of qualifying, at 29.028 seconds (169.409mph).
The major lap by Truex, is made more impressive by the fact that he ran the first round of qualifying in Group B, meaning his tires were significantly warmer than that of Bubba Wallace, who put his 23XI Racing Toyota in second.
Wallace, who will start alongside Truex on Sunday, was the only driver to run a quicker lap in the second round of qualifying than he ran in the opening round.
Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., who scored the victory in the season-opening Daytona 500 for JTG Daugherty Racing, will start from third place on Sunday, while William Byron and Ross Chastain will complete the top five.
Daniel Suarez will start from sixth place, after clocking in outside the top-30 in practice, while Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin, Tyler Reddick, and Brad Keselowski completed the top-10 for Sunday’s 400-mile contest.
Keselowski, who posted the fastest overall lap in the first round of qualifying, was tracking to start inside the top three on his lap in the second round, but overcooked it into turn three, impacting the outside wall.
That mistake relegated his Castrol Ford Mustang to a 10th-place starting spot.
Ryan Blaney will start Sunday’s Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway from 11th after narrowly missing out on being inside the top-five in Group B, running seven one-thousandths of a second slower than Kyle Larson, the final driver to advance.
Kyle Busch (12th), Ty Gibbs (13th), Joey Logano (15th), Christopher Bell (16th), and Aric Almirola (17th) will all start outside the top-10, after failing to post a speed inside the top five in Group B.
The sixth-quickest driver in the first group, Austin Dillon, will start from 18th, after missing out on advancing to the final round by one spot – for the second weekend in a row – by five-hundredths of a second.
Other notable drivers starting outside the top-18 include Kevin Harvick (19th), Chase Elliott (21st), Josh Berry (23rd), Austin Cindric (25th), Ryan Newman (26th), Chris Buescher (27th), Erik Jones (28th), Chase Briscoe (31st), and Ryan Preece (32nd).
Brennan Poole, returning to the seat of the Rick Ware Racing No. 15 for the third straight weekend, posted the slowest time in qualifying, running a time of 30.684 seconds, a lap only 1.6 seconds slower than 11th-place Ryan Blaney.