Christopher Bell leads Toyota lockdown to Talladega’s top spot

TALLADEGA, Ala. – Christopher Bell took pole at Talladega Superspeedway by setting the fastest lap as the last driver to qualify on Saturday.

Bell edged out his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr. for first place with a 180.928 mph lap in his Toyota. Truex qualified second at 180.652 mph to give JGR the front row for Sunday’s race.

JGR is coming off a win last Sunday with Kyle Busch in Bristol.

Daniel Hemric qualified third for Kaulig Racing in a Chevrolet and was followed by Trackhouse Racing’s Daniel Suárez, also in a Chevrolet.

Defending Cup champion Kyle Larson qualified fifth in a Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet and was followed by 23XI Racing’s Kurt Busch in a Toyota. Denny Hamlin, co-owner of 23XI but a driver for JGR, qualified seventh as Toyota grabbed four of the top seven starting spots.

William Byron qualified eighth for Hendrick and was followed by Bubba Wallace in a Toyota and Tyler Reddick in a Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet.

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Joey Logano was the top Ford driver qualifying in 13th place for Team Penske and defending winner Brad Keselowski qualified 15th in a Ford for RFK Racing. Keselowski is the winningest driver in the field with six track victories and Ford was the most organized builder at the Daytona 500, where rookie Ford driver Austin Cindric won in February.

For Bell, it was the second pole of his Cup career and gave JGR their first front row lockout at Talladega. Bell’s best result at Talladega was fifth last fall.

“I’m just very grateful to be in the position that I’m driving for Joe Gibbs Racing,” said Bell, who admitted gusty winds on Saturday at Talladega “didn’t hurt” his qualifying attempt.

“Even from lap one to lap two I could tell my RPMs took really big going downhill straight away and then they were pretty flat going downhill straight away so I don’t know if that was an advantage for me but certainly didn’t hurt,” added Bell.

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