Rookie Erik Jones captures first Cup pole at Bristol

Erik Jones earned his first career Monster Energy Cup Series pole with a lap of 128.082mph at Bristol Motor Speedway on Friday.

Rookie Erik Jones captures first Cup pole at Bristol

Jones first pole came in his 27th Cup start.

“It’s cool any time you get your first pole in the series, but to get it at Bristol, is really cool,” Jones said.

"We had a good week last week. We’ve done a good job of keeping the momentum going so far. Hoping for a good day tomorrow night. Obviously, real excited to get the race going now and see what we can do.”

Kyle Larson will share the front row with Jones after posting a lap of 128.057mph. Kasey Kahne, Chase Elliott, Matt Kenseth and Martin Truex Jr., rounded out the top six qualifiers.

Kenseth was the first driver to roll out on the track with four minutes remaining in the final session. He established a quick lap of 120.429mph on his first lap and improved to 127.563mph on Lap 2. Kenseth ran a third lap but didn’t top his second circuit.

Blaney was the second qualifier followed by Clint Bowyer, Jamie McMurray and Chase Elliott with two minutes on the clock. Blaney ran second followed by McMurray. Elliott vaulted to second on his second lap.

Kasey Kahne posted his first lap with less than a minute to go. His time atop the leader board was short-lived as he was bumped by Kyle Larson — who was then knocked off by Erik Jones.

Truex was the last car on the track and babbled in Turn 3. He settled for sixth.

Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Bowyer, Blaney, McMurray and Suarez rounded out the top 12 in time trials.

Jones was thrilled with the benefits of the pole — including a primo pit box and initial track position.

“We’ve got a good pit stall, we’ve got a good starting spot,” Jones added. “I’ve been saying each week, we just need to have a solid weekend. We need to qualify well. We need to have good pit stops and we need to race well. We’ve checked off a few of those things so far. We just need to keep it going for tomorrow night.”

Round 2

Denny Hamlin was the fastest qualifier in the second round. 

On his second lap, he established the top speed of 128.632mph. Matt Kenseth, Erik Jones, Joey Logano, Daniel Suarez, Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, Clint Bowyer, Kyle Larson, Jamie McMurray, Kasey Kahne and Martin Truex Jr. all transferred to the final round.

Again, the drivers waited for the optimum time to make a run. Larson, Keselowski, Truex sat on the backstretch with 10 minutes on the clock. 

With just over eight minutes on the clock, Larson made his qualifying run and posted a lap of 127.563mph — after running the top of Turns 3 and 4. Kenseth was second on the track and topped Larson with a speed of 128.434mph. Larson made another run but only improved to 127.707mph.

Jimmie Johnson, Austin Dillon and Kyle Busch made their attempts just under the six-minute mark. Dillon was third (126.896mph). Busch’s car was squirrelly in Turns 3 and 4. Ryan Blaney shot up to second on his run with four minutes remaining, Newman, Truex, Jones, Keselowski, Suarez and Kahne made laps with three minutes to go — but couldn’t top Kenseth. 

Kenseth, Jones, Suarez, Elliott and Blaney were in the top five with two minutes to go but Logano vaulted up to third with a lap of 128.074mph. Hamlin bumped Kenseth with just over a minute remaining after posting a lap of 128.632mph. 

Busch, who was 21st on the speed chart, made a second attempt along with Keselowski, Stenhouse and Truex. Busch’s best effort mustered a lap of 126.712mph — 18th quick. Keselowski finished one position better. Truex, however, jumped to 12th — the final spot — with a lap 127.225mph.

“Did me make it,” Truex asked. When the team said, “Yes,” he replied,  “Cool.” 

Ryan Newman was the first driver bumped and will start 13th.

Round 1

Kyle Busch posted the fastest lap in first round of qualifying with a speed of 129.921mph. 

Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott, Jamie McMurray, Martin Truex Jr., Erik Jones, Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne, Ryan Blaney, Daniel Suarez, Brad Keselowski and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., rounded out the top 10. 

Prior to qualifying, NASCAR told teams they could line up on the backstretch pit road for the first round. McMurray, Kenseth, Truex Jr., Blaney, AJ Allmendinger, Chris Buescher, Kurt Busch, Trevor Bayne, Hamlin and Ryan Newman were in line when the 20-minute trial began. 

Kurt Busch was the first driver on the track. He established a time of 16.762-seconds (114.473mph). Joey Gase was the second car out and was considerably slower than Busch (103.295mph). Eighteen cars remained on pit road, waiting for a cloud to cover the track with 15 minutes remaining on the clock. Reed Sorenson made a lap of 107.436mph as 38 cars sat. 

Jeffrey Earnhardt was the fourth car to make an attempt with 10.5-seconds to go. He went to the provisional pole with a lap of 120.793mph. Corey LaJoie set a lap of 124.170mph with nine minutes remaining. Kyle Larson was next on the track with a speed of 127.682mph — and jumped to the top of the board. Dale Earnhardt Jr., completed his first lap with eight minutes to go followed by Bayne, Ryan Newman, Austin Dillon, Matt DiBenedetto, Allmendinger and Michael McDowell. With seven minutes remaining, Kurt Busch returned to the track as Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick made first attempts. 

Blaney, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Chase Elliott, Paul Menard and Keselowski completed their first runs just under six minutes. Busch took the top spot. With just over five minutes remaining, Kahne and Truex made qualifying runs.

With four minutes on the lock, Suarez, Hamlin, McMurray and Stenhouse took to the track with Kyle Busch, Elliott, McMurray, Truex and Jones rounding out the top-five speeds.

Danica Patrick posted the 22nd fastest lap on her first run with three minutes remaining. Earnhardt, who dropped to P30, returned to the track but told the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports team, “I can’t run any faster.” 

With a minute on the clock Bayne, Menard, Landon Cassill, Almirola, DiBenedetto, Buescher and Allmendinger returned to the track. 

Bayne jumped up to 16th and bumped Kurt Busch, who told his crew after completing 10 laps, “That’s a shame.” 

The JTG-Daugherty Chevys of Buescher and Allmendinger, who were 21st and 22nd, respectively, moved on. Patrick picked up the 24th and final position.

Watch Jones celebrate his first career pole: 

Cla#DriverManufacturerTimeGapMph
1 77 united_states Erik Jones  Toyota 14.981   128.082
2 42 united_states Kyle Larson  Chevrolet 14.984 0.003 128.057
3 5 united_states Kasey Kahne  Chevrolet 15.005 0.024 127.877
4 24 united_states Chase Elliott  Chevrolet 15.031 0.050 127.656
5 20 united_states Matt Kenseth  Toyota 15.042 0.061 127.563
6 78 united_states Martin Truex Jr.  Toyota 15.046 0.065 127.529
7 11 united_states Denny Hamlin  Toyota 15.062 0.081 127.393
8 22 united_states Joey Logano  Ford 15.108 0.127 127.006
9 14 united_states Clint Bowyer  Ford 15.117 0.136 126.930
10 21 united_states Ryan Blaney  Ford 15.126 0.145 126.854
11 1 united_states Jamie McMurray  Chevrolet 15.225 0.244 126.030
12 19 mexico Daniel Suarez  Toyota 15.244 0.263 125.872
13 31 united_states Ryan Newman  Chevrolet 15.100 0.119 127.073
14 17 united_states Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  Ford 15.108 0.127 127.006
15 37 united_states Chris Buescher  Chevrolet 15.120 0.139 126.905
16 3 united_states Austin Dillon  Chevrolet 15.121 0.140 126.896
17 2 united_states Brad Keselowski  Ford 15.133 0.152 126.796
18 18 united_states Kyle Busch  Toyota 15.143 0.162 126.712
19 38 united_states David Ragan  Ford 15.146 0.165 126.687
20 6 united_states Trevor Bayne  Ford 15.179 0.198 126.411
21 48 united_states Jimmie Johnson  Chevrolet 15.181 0.200 126.395
22 13 united_states Ty Dillon  Chevrolet 15.230 0.249 125.988
23 47 united_states A.J. Allmendinger  Chevrolet 15.337 0.356 125.109
24 10 united_states Danica Patrick  Ford 15.403 0.422 124.573
25 41 united_states Kurt Busch  Ford 15.194 0.213 126.287
26 95 united_states Michael McDowell  Chevrolet 15.212 0.231 126.137
27 27 united_states Paul Menard  Chevrolet 15.255 0.274 125.782
28 43 united_states Aric Almirola  Ford 15.255 0.274 125.782
29 4 united_states Kevin Harvick  Ford 15.259 0.278 125.749
30 7 united_states J.J. Yeley  Chevrolet 15.282 0.301 125.559
31 88 united_states Dale Earnhardt Jr.  Chevrolet 15.287 0.306 125.518
32 72 united_states Cole Whitt  Chevrolet 15.329 0.348 125.175
33 34 united_states Landon Cassill  Ford 15.376 0.395 124.792
34 32 united_states Matt DiBenedetto  Ford 15.406 0.425 124.549
35 83 united_states Corey Lajoie  Toyota 15.453 0.472 124.170
36 51 united_states B.J. McLeod  Chevrolet 15.503 0.522 123.770
37 55 united_states Gray Gaulding  Chevrolet 15.531 0.550 123.546
38 33 united_states Jeffrey Earnhardt  Chevrolet 15.554 0.573 123.364
39 15 united_states Reed Sorenson  Chevrolet 15.623 0.642 122.819
40 23 united_states Joey Gase  Toyota 15.777 0.796 121.620
41 66 united_states Timmy Hill  Chevrolet 15.725 0.744 122.022
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