KANSAS CITY, Kan. – If William Byron keeps up that pace, he’ll earn a nickname like “Rocket Man” Ryan Newman did for his qualifying prowess.
With a lap of 179.206 mph (30.133 seconds) Saturday afternoon at Kansas Speedway, Byron claimed pole position for Sunday’s AdventHealth 400 NASCAR Cup Series race on the 1.5-mile intermediate track (3 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
In an extremely tight finish, Byron edged teammate Kyle Larson (179.134 mph) by 0.006 seconds to claim the 10th pole of his career in 192 events, which included a streak during the pandemic when qualifying did not take place.
Larson and his teammate Chase Elliott (21st in qualifying) are the only Chevrolet drivers to have won the last 12 Cup races at Kansas.
The pole was Byron’s second of the season and his first at Kansas. Ross Chastain took third place starting with a lap of 179.134 mph, just 0.012 seconds behind Byron.
“I had to work on the balance (in practice) to get (the #24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet) freer for qualifying, but it looked like we did that there,” Byron said. . “So really good in (corners) 1 and 2 and I was a bit tight in 3 and 4, so I have data to probably study how I can get through that end.
“But I’m just proud of the efforts of the whole team.”
Martin Truex Jr., Monday’s winner at Dover Motor Speedway, qualified fourth, followed by Tyler Reddick, who is trying to extend Kansas’ two-game winning streak in the No. 45 23XI Racing Toyota. Kurt Busch and Bubba Wallace won in the car last season at the track on the Kansas side of the Missouri River.
Joey Logano, Ty Gibbs, Denny Hamlin, Daniel Suarez and Ryan Blaney rounded out the top 10 qualifying, which included an eclectic mix of four Chevrolets, four Toyotas and two Fords.
With warm weather forecast for Sunday, Byron spent the week preparing for the high temperatures at the track.
“Yeah it’s going to be hot so I’m just trying to stay hydrated,” said Byron, who has never converted a Cup pole into a win. “I did a lot of work throughout the week for this. Yeah, it’s going to be tough inside the car, so I just have to stay mentally locked in and hopefully have a solid, smooth race, have good pit stops and good restarts.
Byron said that as part of his heat training, he stayed in the sauna until he couldn’t take it anymore. But some of that heat was apparently transferred to his car in Saturday’s qualifying session.
–By NASCAR NewsWire, special for field-level media