Joe Gibbs Racing remained dominant out West in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, sweeping the first three starting positions led by Erik Jones. For the first time in series history the three teams have qualified in the top-three, three consecutive weeks.
Jones laid down a lap in the final round of qualifying at 136.789 mph. Rather than just running one lap like he did the first two rounds, the No. 20 car needed two laps to get the job done and outrun his series teammate Daniel Suarez.
“I think we kind of knew from the start that we were going to have to run two laps no matter how the first lap went,” Jones said. “I knew we had a good car. I knew we had one that could get the pole, just a matter of executing and making sure we had a good car for the last round, which we did.”
This is Jones’ fourth career start at Phoenix in the XFINITY Series. In all four events he has qualified in the top three, thus being his first pole of the 2016 season.
Alongside Jones is Suarez. The No. 19 machine will be starting on the front row for the second time in the brief season and after finishing second last week in Las Vegas is confident about his chances at a victory.
“We have fast racecars that’s for sure,” Suarez said. “We learned a lot in this qualifying session. I think we learned something for the race. I’m excited, I think we have a really good shot.”
After winning the last two races in the XFINITY Series, Kyle Busch will begin the Axalta Faster. Tougher. Brighter. 200 from the third position. The drier of the No. 18 car had won the pole in his last four series starts prior to Saturday.
Ty Dillon will begin the event from the fourth position. He was fastest in Happy Hour on Friday and is looking to kick-start his season at Phoenix. 2014 champion Chase Elliott rounded out the top five.
XFINITY regulars Brandon Jones will lineup eighth, Darrell Wallace, Jr. ninth, Justin Allgaier 10th, Brendan Gaughan 11th and Blake Koch 12th. Those handful of drivers all made the final round of qualifying.
The biggest surprise of the session may have come when Elliott Sadler failed to make the third round. He will start 16th at Phoenix, a place that he has a mix of emotions about.
In the first round of qualifying the No. 15 of Ryan Ellis smacked the wall after posting the 40th fastest lap. He will start the race in the last position, but doesn’t look to be going to a backup car.
Being that there were 42 cars to take time, Josh Reaume and Todd Peck were the drivers who did not qualify for the 40-car field.