William Byron earns pole for the Southern 500 at Darlington

Thanks to William Byron, Cole Trickle is going to get a chance to win a second time at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.

William Byron earns pole for the Southern 500 at Darlington

Byron, who drives the No. 24 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports, won the pole for Sunday night’s Southern 500, driving a car featuring the livery of the fictional race car driver Trickle from the movie, “Days of Thunder.”

In the movie, Trickle – whose character was based loosely on the late racer Tim Richmond – won his first NASCAR Cup series race at Darlington.

Byron, 21, is also looking for his first career win and his average lap speed of 172.487 mph withstood numerous challenges before he secured his fourth pole of the 2019 season.

“It’s awesome to get this City Chevrolet No. 24 on the pole and just see what we can do for 500 miles,” said Byron, who has become just the third driver in NASCAR history to win the pole for the Daytona 500, Coke 600 and Southern 500 in the same season.

“It seems we put effort into some of these qualifying efforts knowing how important track position is and we can have that No. 1 pit stall all day long and all night long, it’s going to be a big deal.

“We’ll see what happens. It’s a really long race. I just got to run all 500 miles. We’re in a good spot in points so I think we can be aggressive.”

Asked how his car was in race trim in Friday’s practice, Byron said: “I thought we were solid. You’re always looking for more rear grip, more turn. It’s typical of short track or slick race track things. I thought our rear grip was better toward the end of practice. 

“Off of (Turn) 4 wasn’t quite as good as we wanted it to be but we made some good adjustments overnight and leaned on our teammates, too, and I think we’re in a decent spot for tomorrow. It’s all about patience and trying to get to the last 100 laps with a good shot at it and a clean right-side, too.”

Brad Keselowski ended up second (172.088 mph) and Kyle Larson was third (171.842 mph). Kurt Busch and Daniel Suarez rounded out the top-five.

Completing the top-10 starters are Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin and Ryan Blaney.

Trouble for Kyle Busch

Kyle Busch never got up to full speed during his qualifying run and said over his team radio that he may be “blowing up.” “I don’t know if it’s the motor or the transmission,” Busch said. 

After returning to the garage, Busch’s Joe Gibbs Racing team was able to re-fire his engine without a problem but continued to look for the cause of the problem.

Late Saturday afternoon, NASCAR announced Busch's team elected to change engines so he will start Sunday night's 500 from the rear of the field.

Busch ended up posting the 33rd-fastest speed. 

Matt DiBenedetto’s No. 95 Toyota failed pre-qualifying inspection twice on Saturday, which resulted in the ejection of the team’s car chief for the remainder of the weekend and a loss of 15 minutes of practice next weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Cla # Driver Manufacturer Laps Time Gap Interval Mph
1 24 United States William Byron  Chevrolet 1 28.510     172.487
2 2 United States Brad Keselowski  Ford 1 28.576 0.066 0.066 172.088
3 42 United States Kyle Larson  Chevrolet 1 28.617 0.107 0.041 171.842
4 1 United States Kurt Busch  Chevrolet 1 28.630 0.120 0.013 171.764
5 41 Mexico Daniel Suarez  Ford 1 28.704 0.194 0.074 171.321
6 48 United States Jimmie Johnson  Chevrolet 1 28.724 0.214 0.020 171.202
7 22 United States Joey Logano  Ford 1 28.756 0.246 0.032 171.011
8 9 United States Chase Elliott  Chevrolet 1 28.766 0.256 0.010 170.952
9 11 United States Denny Hamlin  Toyota 1 28.787 0.277 0.021 170.827
10 12 United States Ryan Blaney  Ford 1 28.801 0.291 0.014 170.744
11 4 United States Kevin Harvick  Ford 1 28.812 0.302 0.011 170.679
12 37 United States Chris Buescher  Chevrolet 1 28.829 0.319 0.017 170.578
13 14 United States Clint Bowyer  Ford 1 28.831 0.321 0.002 170.566
14 3 United States Austin Dillon  Chevrolet 1 28.841 0.331 0.010 170.507
15 20 United States Erik Jones  Toyota 1 28.848 0.338 0.007 170.466
16 88 United States Alex Bowman  Chevrolet 1 28.855 0.345 0.007 170.425
17 21 United States Paul Menard  Ford 1 28.872 0.362 0.017 170.324
18 8 United States Daniel Hemric  Chevrolet 1 28.892 0.382 0.020 170.206
19 95 United States Matt DiBenedetto  Toyota 1 28.905 0.395 0.013 170.130
20 47 United States Ryan Preece  Chevrolet 1 28.910 0.40 0.005 170.100
21 17 United States Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  Ford 1 28.931 0.421 0.021 169.977
22 19 United States Martin Truex Jr.  Toyota 1 28.956 0.446 0.025 169.830
23 34 United States Michael McDowell  Ford 1 29.017 0.507 0.061 169.473
24 6 United States Ryan Newman  Ford 1 29.019 0.509 0.002 169.461
25 00 United States Landon Cassill  Chevrolet 1 29.087 0.577 0.068 169.065
26 38 United States David Ragan  Ford 1 29.097 0.587 0.010 169.007
27 32 United States Corey Lajoie  Ford 1 29.103 0.593 0.006 168.972
28 43 United States Darrell Wallace Jr.  Chevrolet 1 29.163 0.653 0.060 168.625
29 13 United States Ty Dillon  Chevrolet 1 29.173 0.663 0.010 168.567
30 10 United States Aric Almirola  Ford 1 29.229 0.719 0.056 168.244
31 15 United States Ross Chastain  Chevrolet 1 29.239 0.729 0.010 168.186
32 36 United States Matt Tifft  Ford 1 29.272 0.762 0.033 167.997
33 18 United States Kyle Busch  Toyota 1 29.385 0.875 0.113 167.351
34 77 United States Reed Sorenson  Chevrolet 1 29.764 1.254 0.379 165.220
35 52 United States J.J. Yeley  Ford 1 29.796 1.286 0.032 165.042
36 51 United States B.J. McLeod  Ford 1 30.070 1.560 0.274 163.538
37 27 United States Joe Nemechek  Chevrolet 1 30.260 1.750 0.190 162.512
38 54 United States Garrett Smithley  Chevrolet 1 30.568 2.058 0.308 160.874
39 66 United States Joey Gase  Toyota 1 30.888 2.378 0.320 159.207
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Series NASCAR Cup
Event Darlington
Author Jim Utter
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