Martin Truex Jr. earns pole position at Richmond

Martin Truex Jr. earns pole position at Richmond
Jim Utter
By: Jim Utter
Apr 20, 2018, 10:31 PM

Martin Truex Jr. got a welcome change of performance on Friday.

After his two worst race weekends of the season, Truex rebounded on Friday by winning the pole for Saturday night’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond (Va.) Richmond.

Truex’s average lap speed of 123.859 mph was set midway through the final round of knockout qualifying and held up with Chase Elliott coming closest to topping him (123.621 mph). Joey Logano was third-fastest (123.581 mph).

Denny Hamlin will line up fourth and last fall’s Richmond winner, Kyle Larson, will start fifth.

Completing the top 12 starters are Kurt Busch, Erik Jones, Jamie McMurray, William Byron, Kevin Harvick, Alex Bowman and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

The pole is Truex’s third of the season and 18th of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career. It’s actually the fourth time this season he will start first, as he also got one rain-out pole earlier this season.

“It’s definitely been a crappy two weeks, but that’s part of racing,” said Truex, who wrecked out of the last two races at Texas and Bristol. “This team, I have confidence in them and everything they are doing. You can’t let these things get you down – it was just circumstances.

“I’m proud of our effort today. We stuck to our plan and it all worked out. Hopefully, we’ll have a good car for tomorrow night.”

Truex, the reigning series champion, has yet to win on a track less than 1-mile in length.

“I feel pretty good about our car,” he said. “We have some good history to go off of here the past couple years. We’ve been really strong.”

Round 2

Hamlin gained quite a bit in the second round, topping the 10-minute session with an average lap speed of 124.476 mph – at the time the fastest speed on the track on Friday.

Elliott was second-fastest (124.435 mph) and Logano third (124.327 mph). Truex was fourth and McMurray completed the top-five.

Also advancing to the final round were Kurt Busch, Stenhouse, Bowman, Byron, Harvick, Larson and Jones.

Ryan Blaney just missed the Top 12 by three one-hundredths of a second and will line up 13th.

Also failing to advance to the final round were Ryan Newman, Jimmie Johnson, Clint Bowyer, Darrell Wallace Jr. and Daniel Hemric, who is making his series debut this weekend.

“We over adjusted a little bit there,” Bowyer said. “We were really good on our first round. We put a little wedge in it and we probably should have just left it alone. We just went a little bit too far.”

Wallace said he had difficulty on his second round attempt as well.

“Lost a lot of time there,” he said over his team radio. “I couldn’t lay the power down. We’ll start 18th and go to work on it on Saturday night.”

Round 1

Truex led the way in what turned out to be a very surprising first round of knockout qualifying.

Truex’s average lap speed was 124.127 mph followed by Byron (123.893 mph) and Johnson (123.813 mph). Hamlin was fourth and Bowyer completed the top-five.

Among those who failed to advance to Round 2 were Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Aric Almirola, Daniel Suarez and Kasey Kahne.

“We didn’t make a mock (qualifying) run in practice,” said Busch, who ended up 32nd fastest.  “We only ran two laps (in our qualifying attempt) to preserve our tires for the later rounds.

“A lot of guys ran three laps and obviously we could have used that third lap. We’ll just have to come from way far back (Saturday night).”

Busch has won the last two races and looking to match his career-best winning streak with a third consecutive win in the Toyota Owners 400.

As the first round of qualifying got underway, several cars had not yet cleared inspection including Johnson, Erik Jones, Suarez, Trevor Bayne and Ty Dillon.

With seven minutes remaining in the 15-minute session, all cars had cleared inspection and made it on the track.

1 78 united_states Martin Truex Jr.  Toyota 21.799   123.859
2 9 united_states Chase Elliott  Chevrolet 21.841 0.042 123.621
3 22 united_states Joey Logano  Ford 21.848 0.049 123.581
4 11 united_states Denny Hamlin  Toyota 21.855 0.056 123.542
5 42 united_states Kyle Larson  Chevrolet 21.912 0.113 123.220
6 41 united_states Kurt Busch  Ford 21.969 0.170 122.900
7 20 united_states Erik Jones  Toyota 21.974 0.175 122.872
8 1 united_states Jamie McMurray  Chevrolet 21.982 0.183 122.828
9 24 united_states William Byron  Chevrolet 21.985 0.186 122.811
10 4 united_states Kevin Harvick  Ford 21.986 0.187 122.805
11 88 united_states Alex Bowman  Chevrolet 21.999 0.200 122.733
12 17 united_states Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  Ford 22.059 0.260 122.399
13 12 united_states Ryan Blaney  Ford 21.940 0.141 123.063
14 31 united_states Ryan Newman  Chevrolet 21.978 0.179 122.850
15 38 united_states David Ragan  Ford 21.978 0.179 122.850
16 14 united_states Clint Bowyer  Ford 21.979 0.180 122.845
17 48 united_states Jimmie Johnson  Chevrolet 21.990 0.191 122.783
18 43 united_states Darrell Wallace Jr.  Chevrolet 21.991 0.192 122.777
19 37 united_states Chris Buescher  Chevrolet 22.034 0.235 122.538
20 21 united_states Paul Menard  Ford 22.039 0.240 122.510
21 6 united_states Trevor Bayne  Ford 22.052 0.253 122.438
22 8 united_states Daniel Hemric  Chevrolet 22.061 0.262 122.388
23 3 united_states Austin Dillon  Chevrolet 22.067 0.268 122.355
24 34 united_states Michael McDowell  Ford 22.091 0.292 122.222
25 10 united_states Aric Almirola  Ford 21.957 0.158 122.968
26 19 mexico Daniel Suarez  Toyota 21.963 0.164 122.934
27 32 united_states Matt DiBenedetto  Ford 21.992 0.193 122.772
28 2 united_states Brad Keselowski  Ford 22.001 0.202 122.722
29 95 united_states Kasey Kahne  Chevrolet 22.007 0.208 122.688
30 15 united_states Ross Chastain  Chevrolet 22.015 0.216 122.644
31 13 united_states Ty Dillon  Chevrolet 22.063 0.264 122.377
32 18 united_states Kyle Busch  Toyota 22.069 0.270 122.344
33 47 united_states A.J. Allmendinger  Chevrolet 22.083 0.284 122.266
34 23 united_states Gray Gaulding  Toyota 22.194 0.395 121.655
35 72 united_states Cole Whitt  Chevrolet 22.236 0.437 121.425
36 00 united_states Landon Cassill  Chevrolet 22.314 0.515 121.000
37 55 united_states Reed Sorenson  Chevrolet 22.548 0.749 119.745
38 51 united_states Harrison Rhodes  Chevrolet 22.555 0.756 119.707


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