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NASCAR at Richmond qualifying results: Martin Truex Jr. wins Toyota Owners 400 pole

Martin Truex Jr. will lead the field to the green, while Kyle Busch starts 32nd in Saturday night’s Cup Series race at Richmond Raceway.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 - Qualifying
Martin Truex Jr. walks to his car during qualifying for the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway on April 20, 2018.
Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images

Martin Truex Jr. was fastest in qualifying Friday at Richmond Raceway, while Kyle Busch turned in a subpar qualifying effort that will have him starting deep in the field for the Toyota Owners 400 Cup Series race Saturday night.

Truex posted a 123.859 mph average lap to secure his third pole of the season, which comes in his 450th start in NASCAR’s premier division. Chase Elliott qualified second (123.621 mph), followed by defending race winner Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson.

Truex, the defending Cup Series champion, is seeking his first victory on a short track with each of his 16-career wins coming on tracks one mile or bigger. The Furniture Row Racing driver led a race-high 198 lap last fall at Richmond, before contact with Hamlin caused him to crash out late.

”I thought we had a good practice today, [but] it’s hard to put too much stock into with it being a daytime practice, nighttime race,” Truex said. “But we’ve got some good history to go off here the last couple of years, we’ve been really strong, [and] if we’re ever going to get that short-track win, I feel like this is the place to do it.”

Two-time Richmond winner Kurt Busch qualified sixth, with Erik Jones seventh, Jamie McMurray eighth, rookie William Byron a career-best ninth, and Kevin Harvick 10th.

Daniel Hemric will make his Cup Series debut from the 22nd spot on the grid.

Kyle Busch enters Richmond riding a two-race winning streak, but was only able to record the 32nd-fastest time around the three-quarter mile Virginia track and failed to advance past the first qualifying round. He said a strategy call to conserve his tires by not running hard on his lap backfired, as the expected falloff in grip over the course of a run did not occur.

The starting position is Busch’s worst since starting 34th at Texas Motor Speedway last April.

“We only ran two laps trying to make sure we preserve out tires for later on deeper into the session,” Busch said. “A bunch of those guys ran three laps and obviously we needed that third lap. It would have picked up. For some reason the tire here today, even in race trim, your fastest lap was the seventh lap. So just takes a while for everything to come in. Just trying to short cut it a little bit and it didn’t work out for us.”

Toyota Owners 400 starting lineup

Position Driver Make Speed (mph)
Position Driver Make Speed (mph)
1 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota 123.859
2 Chase Elliott Chevrolet 123.621
3 Joey Logano Ford 123.581
4 Denny Hamlin Toyota 123.542
5 Kyle Larson Chevrolet 123.22
6 Kurt Busch Ford 122.9
7 Erik Jones Toyota 122.872
8 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 122.828
9 William Byron Chevrolet 122.811
10 Kevin Harvick Ford 122.805
11 Alex Bowman Chevrolet 122.733
12 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Ford 122.399
13 Ryan Blaney Ford 123.063
14 Ryan Newman Chevrolet 122.85
15 David Ragan Ford 122.85
16 Clint Bowyer Ford 122.845
17 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 122.783
18 Darrell Wallace Jr. Chevrolet 122.777
19 Chris Buescher Chevrolet 122.538
20 Paul Menard Ford 122.51
21 Trevor Bayne Ford 122.438
22 Daniel Hemric Chevrolet 122.388
23 Austin Dillon Chevrolet 122.355
24 Michael McDowell Ford 122.222
25 Aric Almirola Ford 122.968
26 Daniel Suarez Toyota 122.934
27 Matt DiBenedetto Ford 122.772
28 Brad Keselowski Ford 122.722
29 Kasey Kahne Chevrolet 122.688
30 Ross Chastain Chevrolet 122.644
31 Ty Dillon Chevrolet 122.377
32 Kyle Busch Toyota 122.344
33 A.J. Allmendinger Chevrolet 122.266
34 Gray Gaulding Toyota 121.655
35 Cole Whitt Chevrolet 121.425
36 Landon Cassill Chevrolet 121
37 Reed Sorenson Toyota 119.745
38 Harrison Rhodes Chevrolet 119.707