WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Defending Watkins Glen Int’l winner Chase Elliott will start his quest for back-to-back victories at the scenic New York road course from the pole position on Sunday afternoon.
Elliott took the provisional Busch Pole Award during qualifying on Saturday evening with a lap of one minute, 9.287 seconds (127.297 mph) in the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.
Providing his car passes pre-race technical inspection on Sunday morning, it will be Elliott’s second-straight pole at The Glen, his career-high third of the season and the seventh of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career.
With the Cup Series on an impound schedule this weekend, should any cars fail inspection on Sunday, their qualifying times will be disallowed and those drivers would have to start at the rear of the field.
Elliott won the Watkins Glen Cup race from the pole a year ago, and hopes to replicate the feat again.
“Our NAPA Chevy is fast, which is nice,” noted Elliott. “It cooled off a lot, and the track picked up a lot of pace from practice, so I just tried to find the limits of all that. There were a couple of places where I thought I could get more, but you always want to get more.
“Qualifying well here is important, because the strategy is important. When the crews are pitting these cars backward, you need good pit selection and track position. This is a great result for our team.”
Elliott’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron qualified second (1:09.370/127.144 mph), with the Joe Gibbs Racing duo of Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. making up the second row of the grid.
Kyle Larson completed the top five, followed by Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson.
Four Fords filled out the top 12 in Aric Almirola, Brad Keselowski, Michael McDowell and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and were the slowest four drivers among those who made it to the second round.
Clint Bowyer (1:10.215/125.614) was the first driver failing to advance out of the 25-minute opening round and will start 13th in the No. 14 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing.
Other notables mired deep in the pack include Kevin Harvick (15th), Alex Bowman (17th), defending Cup champion Joey Logano (21st), Ryan Newman (25th) and Bubba Wallace (30th).
The Go Bowling at The Glen takes the green flag on Sunday at 3 p.m. ET, with live coverage on NBCSN, the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.