Chase Briscoe rolled to his first Busch Light Pole Award in Saturday qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series’ debut race at World Wide Technology Raceway.
Briscoe set a best lap of 138.274 mph in the final round of qualifying, putting the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford in the No. 1 starting spot for Sunday’s Enjoy Illinois 300 at Gateway (3:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM).
“Yeah, I mean it is cool to be on the pole, right?” said Briscoe, who is the series’ fifth first-time pole winner this year. “I say it all the time. I never thought I would run a Cup race or even a Truck race. To be able to say you are a winner in the Cup Series and now a pole winner is really special. To do it at an inaugural event is even cooler. I think it will hit me a lot more tomorrow when we roll off and there is not a single seat available. I am excited for sure.”
Austin Cindric is set to share an all-Ford front row after posting the second-fastest speed (137.775 mph) in the final round with the Team Penske No. 2 Mustang. Christopher Bell was third, Tyler Reddick fourth and Ryan Blaney rounded out the top five qualifiers on the 1.25-mile track.
Denny Hamlin, last week’s winner in the Coca-Cola 600, was sixth fastest in the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
Zane Smith qualified 32nd for his Cup Series debut in a fill-in role with the No. 17 RFK Racing Ford operation. The Camping World Truck Series regular was announced Thursday as a substitute for Chris Buescher, who tested positive for COVID-19, according to the team.
Sunday’s race will mark the first Cup Series event at the Madison, Illinois, track in suburban St. Louis. The venue hosted the NASCAR Xfinity Series from 1997-2010, and Camping World Trucks from 1998-2010 and 2014 to this year.