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(Photo: Zach Catanzareti)

Kyle Benjamin Scores First Career XFINITY Series Pole

In two-round, single-car qualifying, Kyle Benjamin won his first career XFINITY Series in just his second career start for today’s Pocono Green 250 at Pocono Raceway.

Benjamin’s lap of 172.844 mph, was .163 seconds ahead of Daniel Hemric, who turned the sessions second-quickest lap (172.305 mph). In both of his races this season, the 19-year-old has started from the front row.

“We’ve had a great car all weekend,” Benjamin said of his lap. “I wouldn’t want to be with a different team. The crew chief is great to work with and the team works hard. I learned a little bit off of my first run for my second lap to turn that time. I can’t want to get into the race and see what we’ve got.”

At Richmond International Raceway, Benjamin finished 32nd, after running in the top 10 through the first 245 laps of 250-lap race. Late in the event, there was a pileup that hindered his debut finish.

The second-place qualifying effort is Hemric’s third front row start in his rookie season. It improves on his series-best eighth-place average starting position.

“I’m happy that we’re starting on the front row, but disappointed that we couldn’t get the pole,” Hemric said. “I beat the [No.] 20 car for the pole at Richmond in his debut, and he got me back today. We’re one-in-one, but he’s a good kid.”

Cole Custer (172.295 mph), Justin Allgaier (172.219 mph) and William Byron (171.775 mph) round out the top five starting positions.

The first Cup Series regular is Kyle Larson in sixth, with Daniel Suarez seventh, Brad Keselowski eighth, Paul Menard ninth and Brennan Poole rounding out the top 10.

Many of the top names in the series will have to come from the back, including championship leader Elliott Sadler, who turned the 18th quickest time in the first round of qualifying, failing to make it to the second round.

Other stars that will have to come from deep in the field include Darrell Wallace Jr., who will begin the race from 13th, missing the cutoff by .019 seconds. Ty Dillon will start from 15th, while top XFINITY Series drivers Ryan Reed will start from 16th, Brandon Jones 17th and Matt Tifft 31st.

NASCAR disqualified Casey Mears‘ time for not dropping to the bottom of the track following his qualifying run. He will begin the event shotgun on the field, and is looking for his second top-10 finish in five starts this season for Biagi DenBeste Racing.

The green flag is scheduled to wave at 1:19 p.m. ET. Larson is the defending winner, leading 27 of 53 laps in the inaugural XFINITY Series event at Pocono last season. The rain was deemed official when rain hit the track just past halfway.

About Dustin Albino

Dustin Albino

Dustin joined the Frontstretch team at the beginning of the 2016 season. 2017 marks his third full-time season covering the sport that he grew up loving. His dream was to one day be a NASCAR journalist, thus why he is currently enrolled at Ithaca College in Ithaca, N.Y. Growing up in the Finger Lakes region of Central New York, he’s known since he was a little kid that he wanted to be around fast cars on the media side.

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