Chase Elliott seals Busch Light Pole in Watkins Glen qualifying

Chase Elliott claimed the Busch Light Pole in Saturday qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series at Watkins Glen International.

Elliott, a two-time Watkins Glen winner, posted a best lap of 125.147 mph in the final round on the 2.45-mile New York road course with the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. The Cup Series points leader’s third pole of the season was the 12th of his Cup Series career.

“I feel like there’s still work to do there from where we were in practice,’’ the 26-year-old Elliott said. “Feel like there’s a couple parts of the track I want to put together better. Just really hard to hit all of it. It’s just so fast. The pace is just so high in this car here. I feel like from what I remember with so much throttle you’re carrying, a little bit really goes a long way.’’

RELATED: Qualifying results | At-track photos

Teammate Kyle Larson will start second in the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet when Sunday’s Go Bowling at The Glen gets the green flag (3 p.m. ET, USA, NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM). Michael McDowell starts third in his best qualifying effort of the year, and William Byron and Tyler Reddick finished out the top five in time trials.

Former Formula One champion Kimi Räikkönen qualified 27th for his Cup Series debut in the No. 91 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet.

Qualifying was completed with just one stoppage, for a solo spin and barrier scrape by Kyle Tilley’s No. 78 Live Fast Motorsports Ford in the bus stop chicane that halted Group A with 9:14 remaining.

Sunday’s event is the next-to-last race in the 26-race regular season. The 16-driver field for the Cup Series Playoffs will be locked in after next Saturday’s regular-season finale at Daytona International Speedway.

Larson fastest in practice

Kyle Larson, defending race winner at Watkins Glen, was the fastest on the overall practice chart at 123.715 mph, leading a 1-2 sweep by Hendrick Motorsports drivers.

Larson led Group A in practice, edging Chase Elliott’s No. 9 Chevrolet (123.689 mph) for the top spot. AJ Allmendinger was third-fast in the No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevy and Hendrick’s William Byron — tops in Group B — rounded out a top-four sweep by Chevrolet drivers.

MORE: Cup Series practice results

The second group of practice was red-flagged for separate incidents involving a pair of Toyota-affiliated drivers. Christopher Bell’s No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Camry stalled at the top of the esses after the car’s engine expired. Nearly simultaneously, Ty Gibbs — a substitute for the injured Kurt Busch for the fifth consecutive week — crashed into the Turn 5 tire barriers with the No. 45 23XI Racing Toyota.

Five minutes were added to the Group B session after clean-up for both incidents. Gibbs notched the fifth-fastest lap in practice before his crunch of the barrier.

NASCAR Wire Service contributed to this report.