The four XFINITY Series championship contenders won’t have to go far to battle at the front on Saturday afternoon. Daniel Suarez was the last car to go out in the final round of qualifying and jumped his No. 19 car to the top of the board.
With a lap of 31.779 seconds (169.924 mph), Suarez turned the quickest lap as he did in round two of qualifying. His No. 19 team will lead a trio of championship competitors to the green flag and Justin Allgaier starting sixth, the worst of eligible drivers.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Suarez said of starting ahead of the Championship 4. “I don’t think it can be more exciting than one, two, three. Pit selection is going to be a big advantage and hopefully we can stay toward the front.”
Winning the pole in front of over 20 members of his friends and family, Suarez did so and completed a season sweep of starting in the top 10 in all 33 races.
“I’m very proud of my team. They work very hard to put ourselves in this position and it’s going to be a good day, I’m so proud.”
Elliott Sadler will start alongside Suarez on the front row (169.747 mph). The No. 1 team is working with Mike Bumgarner, Race Operations Manager, a substitute crew chief after Kevin Meendering was suspended after two loose lugnuts were discovered on Sadler’s car in post-race inspection last week in Phoenix.
Erik Jones, the third championship contender, turned the third quickest lap in qualifying (169.545 mph). The No. 20 car has yet to score a victory since the Chase started at Kentucky in September.
A pair of Cup Series regulars round out the top five with Ryan Blaney in fourth (168.587 mph), and Austin Dillon fifth (168.545 mph). The No. 22 team is going for the owner’s championship with Team Penske.
Allgaier will begin the event from sixth, the worst of all championship eligible drivers. The No. 7 team has struggled all weekend, including hitting the wall multiple times in practice on Friday.
“We knew qualifying wasn’t going to be our strength,” Allgaier said. “Yesterday in practice, we didn’t have the short run speed. We had great long run speed, honestly better than the other three Chasers by a good bit. I’m happy with where we qualified because that means we will be within striking distance.”
Matt Tifft will start the race from 39th position due to the No. 18 car not making it through the inspection line. The Joe Gibbs Racing team is also going for the owner’s championship with 12 victories this season, including Kyle Busch‘s last week at Phoenix.
The green flag is set to fly on the 300-mile race shortly after 3:30 p.m. ET. Larson is the defending winner of the event, leading 118 circuits.
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