In the last three years, since the NASCAR Cup Series season-finale was first brought to Phoenix Raceway in 2020, the race’s polesitter has ended up winning the race, and the championship, every single time.
That’s a fantastic omen for William Byron, who captured the pole for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series finale at Phoenix Raceway, the 12th of his career at NASCAR’s top level and his fourth of the season.
Posting a lap of 27.150 seconds (132.597mph), the Hendrick Motorsports driver put himself in a prime position for the championship-deciding race, being the best of the Championship 4 in Saturday’s qualifying session.
On top of the all-important track position, Byron will have by starting on pole, the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro team will have the first pit stall, which has proved to be an advantage time and time again over the years in the championship battle.
Alongside Byron to start Sunday’s 312-lap contest from Phoenix will be regular-season champion Martin Truex, Jr., who was eliminated at Martinsville after a dismal NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.
Kevin Harvick, making his final NASCAR Cup Series start on Sunday, will start from third place, while Kyle Larson, another of the Championship 4 drivers, will start from the outside of the second row, but still very much in range of his teammate in William Byron.
Bubba Wallace continued a strong streak of having speed with a fifth-place qualifying run or 23XI Racing. Denny Hamlin came home in sixth, while Erik Jones, Ross Chastain, Chris Buescher, and Tyler Reddick completed the top-10.
Reddick, driving the No. 45 Toyota Camry TRD, scraped the outside wall at the end of his lap in the final round of time trials, costing him a bunch of time and leaving him as the slowest driver in the round.
Christopher Bell, who captured a series-high number of pole positions in the NASCAR Cup Series this year, qualified a disappointing 13th, while fellow Championship 4 driver Ryan Blaney will start just behind in 15th.
History isn’t on the side of either driver, unfortunately, as only once before in the history of the winner-takes-all format in the NASCAR Cup Series, has the eventual champion started from outside the top-five, and never from a position worse than 14th.
Cole Custer, filling in for Brad Keselowski as he witnesses the birth of his and his wife Paige’s third child, posted a time good enough for 31st place. Regardless, Keselowski will have to drop to the rear, should he return in time for Sunday’s event.