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William Byron fastest in Southern 500 qualifying

by Pete McCole
Saturday, August 31, 2019

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William Byron sporting a Days of Thunder throwback paint scheme this weekend at Darlington
Pete McCole/AR1

William Byron will lead the field to the green flag for Sunday's Southern 500 after clinching the pole position in Saturday's qualifying session at Darlington Raceway.

Byron turned a lap of 172.487 mph (28.510 seconds) around the famous 1.366-mile oval to beat out Brad Keselowski and Kyle Larson for his fourth career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, including poles in three marquee events this season in the season-opening Daytona 500, the Coca-Cola 600 and now the Southern 500 – become just the third driver to win poles for all three events in the same season.

"It's awesome to get this City Chevrolet No. 24 on the pole and just see what we can do for 500 miles," said Byron, who joined Fireball Roberts and Bill Elliott in the exclusive club winning all three poles. "It seems we put effort into some of these qualifying efforts knowing how important track position is and we can have that No. 1 pit stall all day long and all night long, it's going to be a big deal."

Byron's No. 24 Chevrolet is sporting a throwback Days of Thunder paint scheme that honors Hendrick Motorsports involvement with the 1990 film starring Tom Cruise as the up-and-coming hotshoe Cole Trickle. Hendrick Motorsports provided the chassis and engineering support for many of the racecars used in the film. Randy Quaid's character Tim Deland was based in part on team owner Rick Hendrick.

In the film, Trickle famously uses Darlington's notorious high groove to score his first-career Cup Series victory. Could Bryon possible follow in Trickle's footsteps?

"I don't even know. I guess we shaved this one like a bullet. So, we'll see what happens," said Byron. "It's a really long race. I just got to run all 500 miles. We're in a good spot in points so I think we can be aggressive."

Keselowski was the defending pole winner of the event but came up short of making it two in a row, falling to second with a lap of 172.088 mph in the No. 2 Ford, featuring a Rusty Wallace throwback paintjob. Kyle Larson will start third after turning in a lap of 171.842. Kurt Busch (171.764) and Daniel Suarez (171.321) rounded out the top five.

Kyle Busch cut his qualifying lap short after suffering a suspected engine problem and will start 33rd on the grid.

RACE LINEUP

Pos # Driver Sponsor/Make Lap Speed
1 24 William Byron HendrickAtgrd/CtyChvrltThrwbck Chev 28.51 172.487
2 2 Brad Keselowski Miller Ford 28.576 172.088
3 42 Kyle Larson Clover Chevrolet 28.617 171.842
4 1 Kurt Busch Chevrolet Accessories Chevrolet 28.63 171.764
5 41 Daniel Suarez Haas Automation Ford 28.704 171.321
6 48 Jimmie Johnson Ally Throwback Chevrolet 28.724 171.202
7 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford 28.756 171.011
8 9 Chase Elliott NAPA Throwback Chevrolet 28.766 170.952
9 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Darlington Throwback Toyota 28.787 170.827
10 12 Ryan Blaney Menards/Pennzoil Ford 28.801 170.744
11 4 Kevin Harvick Busch Beer/Big Buck Hunter Ford 28.812 170.679
12 37 Chris Buescher Kroger Fast Lane to Flavor Chevrolet 28.829 170.578
13 14 Clint Bowyer Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Ford 28.831 170.566
14 3 Austin Dillon American Ethanol Chevrolet 28.841 170.507
15 20 Erik Jones Sport Clips Throwback Toyota 28.848 170.466
16 88 Alex Bowman Axalta Throwback Chevrolet 28.855 170.425
17 21 Paul Menard Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford 28.872 170.324
18 8 Daniel Hemric # Caterpillar Chevrolet 28.892 170.206
19 95 Matt DiBenedetto No. 95 IMSA GTO Throwback Toyota 28.905 170.13
20 47 Ryan Preece # Kroger Chevrolet 28.91 170.1
21 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Dog's Most Wanted Ford 28.931 169.977
22 19 Martin Truex Jr. Bass Pro Shops Toyota 28.956 169.83
23 34 Michael McDowell Dockside Logistics Ford 29.017 169.473
24 6 Ryan Newman Oscar Mayer/Velveeta Ford 29.019 169.461
25 0 Landon Cassill(i) StarCom Fiber Chevrolet 29.087 169.065
26 38 David Ragan Shriners Hospital for Children Ford 29.097 169.007
27 32 Corey LaJoie CorvetteParts.net Ford 29.103 168.972
28 43 Bubba Wallace Victory Junction 15th Anniversary Chevrolet 29.163 168.625
29 13 Ty Dillon GEICO Chevrolet 29.173 168.567
30 10 Aric Almirola Smithfield Ford 29.229 168.244
31 15 Ross Chastain(i) Chevrolet 29.239 168.186
32 36 Matt Tifft # Hilliker Glass/Surface Ford 29.272 167.997
33 18 Kyle Busch Snickers Throwback Toyota 29.385 167.351
34 77 Reed Sorenson Motor Racing Network Chevrolet 29.764 165.22
35 52 JJ Yeley(i) JACOB Companies Chevrolet 29.796 165.042
36 51 BJ McLeod(i) JACOB Companies Chevrolet 30.07 163.538
37 27 Joe Nemechek(i) Chevrolet 30.26 162.512
38 54 Garrett Smithley(i) AQRE App Chevrolet 30.568 160.874
39 66 Joey Gase(i) MBM Motorsports Toyota 30.888 159.207

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