Looking to make the most of his opportunity with Joe Gibbs Racing in the Nationwide Series, Sam Hornish Jr. claimed the pole position for tomorrow’s NASCAR Nationwide Series Aaron’s 312 at Talladega Superspeedway.
Hornish (186.783 mph) led a JGR sweep of the top three starting positions, narrowly besting Elliott Sadler (186.776). With about 30 seconds remaining in the final round of qualifying, Hornish hit the top of the time sheets tucked in behind Sadler in the draft.
Alabama native and Camping World Truck Series regular Darrell “Bubba” Wallace (186.729) qualified third at .015 of a second behind the former Indianapolis 500 winner. Wallace had topped Round 2 with a lap of 50.831 seconds after barely advancing from Round 1.
“It definitely takes three teammates to be able to do that today – Elliott led the way and I just tried to maintain the gap between myself and Bubba and him,” Hornish said to Fox Sports.
Speaking of Round 1, that was stopped briefly for a single-car incident that probably should’ve been bigger. A mega run of momentum through Turn 4 for Kyle Larson ended with him trying – and failing – to thread the needle between Regan Smith on the outside and Tanner Berryhill on the inside.
The resulting contact sent Berryhill into Derrike Cope before Berryhill finally spun his No. 17 Dodge into the outside retaining wall. The green came back out with around 11 minutes left in the round, and the remainder played out without incident.
But when Round 1 was over, the red-hot JR Motorsports group of series points leader Chase Elliott, Regan Smith, and Kasey Kahne had all failed to make the draft work for them and did not advance to Round 2.
Tomorrow, Kahne will start 32nd, Smith 33rd, and Elliott farther back in 37th.
“I think everybody just got kind of antsy and we could never really decide where everybody wanted to go,” Elliott said to Fox. “It’s a long race tomorrow, so it’s not about your starting spot. We’ll make the most of where we’re at and try to improve tomorrow.”