Bubba Wallace rockets to first career NASCAR Cup pole at Michigan

Wallace, the last of the 10 cars to qualify in the final round, easily topped Christopher Bell with an average lap speed of 190.703 mph.

Wallace and Bell (189.898 mph) will share the front row to start Sunday’s race at Michigan International Speedway.

The pole is the first for Wallace in his career and the first for 23XI Racing, which is co-owned by NBA legend Michael Jordan and Cup driver Denny Hamlin.

“That was tough – it took me five years to get my first pole,” Wallace said. “It’s a testament to everyone at 23XI, everyone on this No. 23 team, they’ve been doing a tremendous job all year long. We just haven’t had the finishes we deserve.

“I’m proud of everybody sticking through it, a lot of adversity on this team. We keep showing up ready to battle and that means a lot. For us to come out here and get this pole, we knew we had speed from the (tire) test. That’s good when things are lining up.

“Now the real job is tomorrow, right? We know that’s a totally different ball game. Good starting spot for us but we kind of reset and get ready for tomorrow.”

Bell’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Kyle Busch – who was fastest in Saturday’s practice – ended up third (189.868 mph). Joey Logano and Austin Cindric rounded out the top-five.

Completing the top-10 starting lineup are Tyler Reddick, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Larson, Hamlin and Erik Jones.

In all, Toyota drivers claimed five of the top-10 starting positions.

Round 1 / Group B

Wallace also backed up his speed from practice, posting the fastest average lap speed in Group B (189.964 mph).

Logano ended up second-fastest (189.225 mph) and Larson was third (189.220 mph).

Also advancing to the final round of qualifying were Reddick and Truex.

Among those who failed to advance to the final round out of Group B were Ty Gibbs – in this third week substituting for Kurt Busch, Chase Elliott and Ross Chastain.

Round 1 / Group A

Kyle Busch backed up his speed in practice by leading the way in Group A qualifying with an average lap speed of 190.024 mph.

Busch’s JGR teammate, Bell, was second-fastest (189.949 mph) and fellow teammate Hamlin was third (189.269 mph).

Cindric and Jones also advanced to the final round from Group A.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve made it to the second round,” Jones said. “I feel like we have a good package. I feel comfortable with this car here. I feel like I know what I need to go fast.”

Among those who failed to advance were Kevin Harvick, William Byron, Austin Dillon and Brad Keselowski.

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