Besides Cassill, several others score season-bests at Talladega

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The crapshoot nature of Talladega is that it often presents an opportunity for smaller teams that avoid accidents a shot at a season-best finish.

Such was the case once again on Sunday, even though there wasn’t the much-loathed and much-feared “big one” that often seems to rear its ugly head.

Landon Cassill finished fourth, which was a breakout story on its own.

Meanwhile in sixth, Travis Kvapil posted a rare result while in the No. 33 Circle Sport Racing Chevrolet for Joe Falk. Kvapil’s season-best finish was 25th at Pocono in August driving for Frank Stoddard’s FAS Lane Racing in the No. 32 Ford. It marked his first top-10 result since coming home eighth at the 2012 fall Talladega race driving for BK Racing.

Each of those who finished 14th through 16th, Reed Sorenson, Cole Whitt and Michael Waltrip, posted their season-best results as well. Sorenson’s previous best this year was 16th at the Daytona 500, Whitt’s 18th at Fontana, and Waltrip’s 19th at the summer Daytona race.

Of the other part-time or otherwise “underdog” teams and drivers, Ryan Blaney finished 22nd in his second Cup start for Team Penske after starting fourth and running up front for a good portion of the race, Josh Wise was 28th as the Phil Parsons Racing No. 98 Ford was once again adorned in Dogecoin colors, usual Talladega surprises Front Row Motorsports were only 29th and 30th (David Gilliland and David Ragan), Trevor Bayne 32nd, Michael Annett 37th, Mike Wallace 38th, Michael McDowell 41st and the BK Racing teammates (JJ Yeley, Alex Bowman) 42nd and 43rd.

In his likely final start, two-time Cup champion Terry Labonte came home one lap down in 33rd.

Indy 500 qualifying: Today’s schedule, TV times, how the 33-car field is set

Indy 500 qualifying schedule
Doug Mathews/IndyCar
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The 33-car field of the 104th Indianapolis 500 will be set through the two-day Indy 500 qualifying schedule Saturday and Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Today’s session will determine the nine cars that will compete for the pole position and starting positions 10-30.

On Sunday, the pole position then will be determined in a Fast Nine Shootout (the top nine qualifiers also received NTT IndyCar Series points).

All on-track activity will be on NBC Sports Gold’s IndyCar pass (click here for streaming Saturday and here for Sunday), and Indy 500 qualifying will be on NBC from 3-5 p.m. ET Saturday and Indy 500 pole qualifying from 1-3 p.m. ET on NBC.

Last year, Simon Pagenaud captured the pole position on the way to winning last year’s Indy 500.

Qualifying speeds at Indianapolis Motor Speedway are determined by a four-lap average around the 2.5-mile track.

Here is the Indy 500 qualifying schedule and how to watch on TV:

Saturday, Aug. 15

5:30 a.m. – Garage opens

6 a.m. – Tech inspection

8:30-9:30 a.m. – Indianapolis 500 practice (NBC Sports Gold)

11 a.m.-5 p.m. – Indianapolis 500 qualifying (NBC Sports Gold; NBC coverage from 3-5 p.m.; NBCSN 5-6 p.m.)

7:30 p.m. – Garage closes

Sunday, Aug. 16

8 a.m. – Garage opens

9 a.m. — Tech inspection

11-11:30 a.m. – Indianapolis 500 practice (NBC Sports Gold)

1:15-2:15 p.m. – Fast Nine pole qualifying (NBC begins at 1 p.m., NBC Sports Gold)

3:30-6 p.m. – Indianapolis 500 practice (NBCSN, NBC Sports Gold)