Aric Almirola takes surprise pole in first Nashville Cup race

It’s been a difficult season for Aric Almirola but on Sunday he found a bright spot

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In one of the few qualifying sessions the NASCAR Cup Series has had this season, Almirola went out early and held off all comers to earn the pole for Sunday’s inaugural Ally 400 at Nashville (Tenn.) Superspeedway.

Almirola, who was 12th fastest in Saturday’s lone practice session, put up an average lap speed of 161.992 mph to won his first pole since the 2019 season.

This year, Almirola’s best start was third in the season-opening Daytona 500 and he’d only started 16th or best on four occasions.

“That’s been the hard part about this year – we got in a wreck at Daytona and immediately it puts you in a hole. Every race thereafter just keeps compounding and last week just always haunts you,” Almirola said.

“You can’t ever start fresh the next week because you’re starting deep in the field. Then we’ve had a lot of other trouble and we’re buried in points. It’s so hard to build any momentum off that.

“Finally, a good weekend, to come here and qualify on the pole.”

Kyle Busch, who won Saturday’s Xfinity Series race, ended up second-fastest (161.910 mph), Joey Logano was third (161.850 mph), William Byron was fourth (161.691 mph) and Kyle Larson (161.495 mph) rounded out the top-five.

Completing the top-10 lineup are Chase Elliott, Cole Custer, Alex Bowman, Erik Jones and Ryan Blaney.

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Cla # Driver Manufacturer Laps Time Gap Interval Mph
1 10 United States Aric Almirola Ford 1 29.557     161.992
2 18 United States Kyle Busch Toyota 1 29.572 0.015 0.015 161.910
3 22 United States Joey Logano Ford 1 29.583 0.026 0.011 161.850
4 24 United States William Byron Chevrolet 1 29.612 0.055 0.029 161.691
5 5 United States Kyle Larson Chevrolet 1 29.648 0.091 0.036 161.495
6 9 United States Chase Elliott Chevrolet 1 29.722 0.165 0.074 161.093
7 41 United States Cole Custer Ford 1 29.752 0.195 0.030 160.930
8 48 United States Alex Bowman Chevrolet 1 29.811 0.254 0.059 160.612
9 43 United States Erik Jones Chevrolet 1 29.835 0.278 0.024 160.483
10 12 United States Ryan Blaney Ford 1 29.837 0.280 0.002 160.472
11 21 United States Matt DiBenedetto Ford 1 29.839 0.282 0.002 160.461
12 4 United States Kevin Harvick Ford 1 29.898 0.341 0.059 160.144
13 11 United States Denny Hamlin Toyota 1 29.905 0.348 0.007 160.107
14 47 United States Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Chevrolet 1 29.925 0.368 0.020 160.000
15 2 United States Brad Keselowski Ford 1 29.934 0.377 0.009 159.952
16 14 United States Chase Briscoe Ford 1 29.945 0.388 0.011 159.893
17 17 United States Chris Buescher Ford 1 29.986 0.429 0.041 159.675
18 38 Anthony Alfredo Ford 1 29.998 0.441 0.012 159.611
19 42 United States Ross Chastain Chevrolet 1 30.003 0.446 0.005 159.584
20 37 United States Ryan Preece Chevrolet 1 30.027 0.470 0.024 159.456
21 23 United States Bubba Wallace Toyota 1 30.048 0.491 0.021 159.345
22 99 Mexico Daniel Suarez Chevrolet 1 30.098 0.541 0.050 159.080
23 34 United States Michael McDowell Ford 1 30.104 0.547 0.006 159.049
24 7 United States Corey Lajoie Chevrolet 1 30.144 0.587 0.040 158.838
25 20 United States Christopher Bell Toyota 1 30.169 0.612 0.025 158.706
26 8 United States Tyler Reddick Chevrolet 1 30.207 0.650 0.038 158.506
27 77 United States Justin Haley Chevrolet 1 30.215 0.658 0.008 158.464
28 3 United States Austin Dillon Chevrolet 1 30.235 0.678 0.020 158.360
29 6 United States Ryan Newman Ford 1 30.250 0.693 0.015 158.281
30 1 United States Kurt Busch Chevrolet 1 30.299 0.742 0.049 158.025
31 78 United States B.J. McLeod Ford 1 30.375 0.818 0.076 157.630
32 51 United States J.J. Yeley Chevrolet 1 30.555 0.998 0.180 156.701
33 66 United States Chad Finchum Toyota 1 30.804 1.247 0.249 155.434
34 52 United States Josh Bilicki Ford 1 30.821 1.264 0.017 155.349
35 19 United States Martin Truex Jr. Toyota 1 30.931 1.374 0.110 154.796
36 53 United States Garrett Smithley Chevrolet 1 31.091 1.534 0.160 154.000
37 15 United States Joey Gase Chevrolet 1 31.145 1.588 0.054 153.733
38 13 United States David Starr Toyota 1 31.691 2.134 0.546 151.084
39 00 United States Quin Houff Chevrolet    
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