Michigan Cup qualifying: Bubba Wallace earns first career pole
Bubba Wallace has claimed his first career NASCAR Cup Series pole for Sunday’s race at Michigan International Speedway (3 p.m. ET, USA Network, NBC Sports App and NBCSports.com).
Wallace’s lap of 190.703 miles per hour was fastest among the 10 drivers that advanced to the final round of qualifying Saturday afternoon.
His pole, which came in his 171st career Cup start, is also the first in Cup competition for 23XI Racing, the team co-owned by Denny Hamlin and NBA legend Michael Jordan.
Wallace and 23XI earned their first Cup race win last fall in a rain-shorted race at Talladega Superspeedway.
“‘Bout time! Took me five years to get my first pole,” Wallace told NBC Sports on Saturday. “It’s a testament to everybody at 23XI. Everybody on this No. 23 team, they’ve been doing a tremendous job all year long, really. Just haven’t had the finishes that we’ve deserved, but proud of everybody for just sticking through it.
"(There’s been) a lot of adversity on this team, but we keeping showing up ready to battle... Now, the real job is tomorrow, right? We know that’s a totally different ball game. So, a good starting spot for us, but we’ve gotta reset and get ready for tomorrow.”
Wallace has been heating up recently with three consecutive top-10 finishes going into Michigan. He finished fifth last week at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
Wallace’s lap knocked Christopher Bell off the pole, but Bell’s lap of 189.898 miles per hour still ensured a Toyota lockout of the front row.
In fact, Toyota drivers swept the top three starting positions for Sunday, with Kyle Busch (189.868 mph) qualifying third. Joining Kyle Busch in Row 2 will be Joey Logano (189.509 mph), who led the Fords in qualifying.
Row 3 features Austin Cindric (189.449 mph) and top Chevrolet driver Tyler Reddick (189.026 mph), last week’s winner at Indy.