WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (AP) — Chase Elliott won the NASCAR Cup pole on Saturday at Watkins Glen International, edging Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson for the top spot.
Elliott, a two-time winner at The Glen, turned a fast lap of 1 minute, 10.477 seconds around the 2.45-mile natural terrain road course. Larson, who won last year’s race at The Glen, finished in 1:10.516, just ahead of Michael McDowell.
“I’m really proud of our team,” Elliott said. “We’ll try to give them a good run tomorrow.”
William Byron was fourth and Tyler Reddick, winner of the past two road races on the Cup schedule, will start fifth as Chevrolet took four of the top five spots.
AJ Allmendinger was sixth, followed by Chris Buescher, Austin Cindric, Daniel Suárez and Kyle Busch.
Ryan Blaney and Martin Truex Jr., battling for the final playoff spot with just two races left in the regular season, will start side-by-side in Row 13.
“Definitely not the day we wanted, for sure,” Truex said. “We’ll just keep working on it, battle and fight through it and get all we can like we always do.”
Former Formula One champion Kimi Raikkonen, who came out of retirement for the chance to enter NASCAR’S top series, qualified 27th in his Cup debut. Raikkonen is driving for TrackHouse Racing and its Project91 program designed to raise NASCAR’s international exposure.
“I wish there were more laps to put everything together,” Raikkonen said. “I thought I was pretty OK. It’s good.”
Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell blew the engine during practice in the No. 20 Toyota and will start at the back of the 39-car field.