It appears that Stewart-Haas Racing has figured out superspeedway qualifying, placing Chase Briscoe, driver of the No. 14 Magical Vacation Planning Ford Mustang on the pole for Saturday’s Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
Posting a lap of 49.499 seconds (181.822mph) in the final round of qualifying from the 2.5-mile superspeedway, Briscoe scored his second pole in the NASCAR Cup Series, leading teammate Aric Almirola (49.534s/181.693mph) in a 1-2 sweep for Stewart-Haas.
The pole position earned on Friday marks the 61st for Stewart-Haas Racing at NASCAR’s top level, and the first for the organization at a conventional superspeedway since Kurt Busch at Talladega in 2018.
Additionally, with the Mitchell, Indiana native on pole for Saturday’s 400-mile contest, three of the four entries from Stewart-Haas have now secured first-place starts this season – Preece at Martinsville, Almirola at Atlanta, Briscoe at Daytona.
Harrison Burton, in his second full season of competition for Wood Brothers Racing, earned a career-best qualifying result in third place, and the best starting spot for the organization since Paul Menard started second at Indianapolis in 2019.
Bubba Wallace was the highest-ranking of the Toyota-backed drivers in the field for Saturday’s event, while Ty Gibbs – his closest competitor for the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff bubble – will start in fifth.
Riley Herbst, making his third career NASCAR Cup Series start in the No. 36 Ford Mustang for Front Row Motorsports, put together a stellar sixth-place qualifying result, while Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney, Ryan Preece, and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top-10.
Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing, two organizations that usually thrive in single-car qualifying on superspeedways, appear to have taken a race-centralized approach for this weekend, with results outside the top-10.
Martin Truex, Jr. will start in 13th, Christopher Bell in 15th, Denny Hamlin in 19th, while Chase Elliott will start 23rd for Hendrick Motorsports, with teammates William Byron and Alex Bowman in 27th and 31st, respectively.
Michael McDowell, the 2021 winner of the Daytona 500, will start in last-place on Saturday, after both of the full-time Front Row Motorsports drivers failed to show significant pace in qualifying, starting 35th and 39th.
Starting Lineup – 2023 Coke Zero Sugar 400: