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Ryan Preece wins Cup pole at Martinsville

Special guest Chase Elliott tells Dustin Long that he and fans of the No. 9 are "all in it together," and that the response after the announcement that he will climb back in the race car at Martinsville "means a lot."

MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Ryan Preece scored his first career Cup pole Saturday at Martinsville Speedway, circling the half-mile track in less than 20 seconds.

Preece earned the pole with a lap of 94.780 mph (19.979 seconds). He’ll be joined on the front row by Daniel Suarez (94.298).

MORE: Martinsville Cup starting lineup

Aric Almirola (94.298) qualified third, followed by Chase Briscoe (94.153) and Martin Truex Jr. (94.120). Suarez and Almirola each had the same lap time. Suarez will start ahead of Almirola because his car is higher in owner points than Almirola’s car. Kevin Harvick (93.975) qualified seventh, putting all four Stewart-Haas Racing cars in the top seven.

Chase Elliott, making his return after missing the past six races because of a broken left tibia, will start 24th.

“I had an abysmal qualifying lap, but I can’t blame my leg on that one,” Elliott told FS1. “Had a pretty good first lap and then I really messed up the exit of (Turn) 2 there on my second (lap). Judging off of practice, starting in the back is going to be a lot of fun.”

Elliott ran 37 laps in practice before qualifying and told FS1: “I feel fine in the car. My entire practice run I felt fine. Once you kind of get out there on the track and you start focusing on the little things you need to be doing to hit your marks, I feel like some of that goes away.”