LOS ANGELES — Kyle Busch set the fastest lap in single-car qualifying runs at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Saturday night, claiming the top spot for Sunday’s opening heat race (3 p.m. ET, FOX).
By setting the best lap at a time of 13.745 seconds, the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota claimed the coveted top spot in Heat 1 of 4 on Sunday for the race debut of NASCAR’s Next Gen car.
“I never would have thunk it,” said Busch, the only Toyota driver in the top 14 in time trials. “I don’t know, you know, it’s pretty cool. It’s just different with the opportunity to do something like this … we’re having a great time. We had a bunch of fans come out just to witness the qualifying.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what this place will look like (Sunday) and have the opportunity to race this No. 18 Toyota and keep it up front. We’re not in (the main event) yet—we still have to go through that heat race.”
Tyler Reddick earned the top spot for Heat 2 with a time of 13.761, which was second fastest in Saturday’s qualifying. Justin Haley will lead Heat 3 after posting a 13.891 mark Saturday and Joey Logano, fourth fastest Saturday with a best lap of 13.949 seconds, starts on the pole position for Heat 4.
Qualifying times set the lineup for each heat session — drivers 1, 5, 9, etc. are competing in Heat 1, drivers 2, 6, 10, etc. are competing in Heat 2 and so on.
Sunday’s heat races will feature four 25-lap races, followed by two last-chance qualifiers (LCQ’s) to set the field for the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum main event at 6 p.m. ET on FOX. The top four finishers in each heat will advance to the 150-lap main event. Three drivers will advance from each of the LCQs, with the provisional completing the 23-car Clash field.
Reigning Cup Series champion Kyle Larson posted the eighth-fastest lap with a time of 13.957 seconds. Larson is currently the only driver with a guaranteed spot in the main event, because the final spot is reserved for the highest 2021 points finisher who has not already qualified.
Contributing staff reports.