Erik Jones will begin his first appearance in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs from the pole after he took the top spot for Sunday’s South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Jones posted a fast lap of 188.121 mph (28.705 seconds) to become the youngest driver to win the pole for a Cup Series race at Las Vegas. It was his second career pole.
“We’ve been getting faster and faster each week,” Jones said. “We’ve been qualifying good all year. It was a matter of time hopefully before we got a pole. The DeWalt Camry had speed all day. We were able to fine tune it a little bit. We didn’t know how the runs were going to go. I did my job of not over-driving it which I tend to do quite a bit. It all worked out and it’s a good place to be going.”
Eleven of the 16 playoff drivers qualified in the first 11 spots with Joey Logano qualifying second.
“We have a good Pennzoil Ford to run here at Vegas,” Logano said. “I am excited about that. Just didn’t finish the turn quite good enough. Got into the corner and turned the first part alright but couldn’t finish the center to the deepest point of the corner. So we will start second and race from there.”
Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick the top five. Busch bounced back after grabbing the last transfer spot, 24th, in the first round.
“We struggled a bit through the first two rounds, so getting back to fourth was good compared to what it looked like at one point,” Busch said. “We have a pretty good M&M’S Camry, but just lacking some grip in qualifying trim. We’ll work on it during both practices tomorrow and try and get a win on Sunday.”
Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Kurt Busch, Alex Bowman, Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Larson completed the top 11.
“My balance was really good the first run and then the second run I changed up what I was doing a little bit and got us in trouble,” Larson said. “I just need to know not to try to drive like other people and probably be alright.”
Jamie McMurray, who made contact with the wall on his final qualifying run, was the lone non-playoff driver in the final round.
Brad Keselowski was the first playoff driver to miss the final round, qualifying 13th. The remaining playoff drivers: Clint Bowyer, Aric Almirola, Jimmie Johnson and Austin Dillon will start 15th-18th, respectively.