Story By: HOLLY CAIN / NASCAR – LONG POND, PA – Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron earned his series best fourth pole position of the year Saturday at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway and will lead the NASCAR Cup Series field to green in Sunday’s HighPoint.com 400 (2:30 p.m. ET, USA Network, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Byron’s time of 57.746 (170.235 mph) in the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet was .122-second quicker than his championship rival Martin Truex Jr. in Busch Light Pole Qualifying at the unique three-turn, 2.5-mile Pocono track and places the current two title leaders alongside one another for the race start.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver Truex – the 2017 series champion – has two previous wins (2015 and 2018) at Pocono while the 25-year old Charlotte-native Byron is still racing for his first.
“Big thanks to all the guys back at the shop for working hard and getting our cars close, I’m proud of this one,’’ said Byron, who leads the series with four wins and is currently 17 points behind Truex for the regular season championship.
“Definitely tomorrow’s a long day so re-hydrate and re-group. I’ve had a long week of racing so hopefully tomorrow is a good result for us. It would be nice to get a win.’’
Tyler Reddick set the NASCAR Cup Series pace all day in his No. 45 23XI Racing Toyota – fastest overall in practice and first round qualifying – but he will start seventh on the grid. His teammate Bubba Wallace was quickest in Group A qualifying, but brushed the wall during his final round qualifying lap and will start 10th.
Hendrick Motorsports’ Kyle Larson and Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick will start on the second row, followed by Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell and Team Penske’s Joey Logano, the reigning series champion.
Reddick will line up alongside his team co-owner, JGR driver Denny Hamlin on row four. Team Penske’s Austin Cindric and Wallace comprise row five, rounding out the Top-10 qualifiers.
Defending race winner Chase Elliott spun his No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet while making a qualifying run and will start in the rear of the field trying to defend his trophy and more importantly, earn a position in the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.
There are six races remaining to set that 16-driver Playoff field. Elliott missed six races due to a combination of injury and a one-race NASCAR suspension and is 60 points behind Michael McDowell in that 16th place transfer position.
Hamlin is tied with NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon for most wins (six) in Pocono history. There has not been a repeat winner in the last six Pocono races.