Bubba Wallace earns first career Cup pole at Michigan

Bubba Wallace earns first career Cup pole at Michigan

Bubba Wallace snagged his first career Busch Light Pole Award Saturday at Michigan International Speedway.

Wallace was the only driver to break 190 mph in the final round of qualifying, earning the top starting position with an average lap speed of 190.703 mph. The pole is also the first for 23XI Racing, which first began fielding cars in 2021.

MORE: Sunday’s starting lineup | At-track photos

“About time,” Wallace said. “It took me five years to get my first pole. It‘s a testament to 23XI, everybody on the No. 23 team. They‘ve been doing a tremendous job all year long, really. Just haven‘t had the finishes we deserve, but proud for everybody just sticking through it.

“A lot of adversity on this team, and we keep showing up ready to battle.”

The speed in the No. 23 Toyota was shared across each of the manufacturer’s six cars. Christopher Bell (189.898 mph) will roll off alongside Wallace on the front row for Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 (3 p.m. ET, USA Network, NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Kyle Busch, Bell’s teammate at Joe Gibbs Racing, will start third (189.868 mph) with Martin Truex Jr. starting seventh (189.724 mph).

The best non-Toyotas in Saturday’s session were Team Penske teammates Joey Logano in fourth (189.509 mph) and Austin Cindric fifth (189.449 mph). Tyler Reddick, who won last week at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, posted the sixth-fastest lap at 189.026 mph.

The top 10 was completed by Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin and Erik Jones.

A pair of part-time rookies will start from Row 6 on Sunday. Ty Gibbs and Noah Gragson, both of whom are vying for the Xfinity Series championship this season, posted quick lap times in Saturday’s session and narrowly missed advancing to the final round of qualifying from Group B. Gibbs will roll off P11 Sunday with Gragson 12th.

Chase Elliott, who entered the weekend as a co-favorite according to BetMGM, qualified 13th. Ryan Blaney, the defending race winner at Michigan and highest ranked driver in the playoff grid on points, will start 24th on Sunday.

Drivers who struggled in Saturday’s time trials included Alex Bowman in 30th, Brad Keselowski in 33rd and Todd Gilliland in 37th. In his Cup Series debut for Richard Childress Racing, Austin Hill will start 31st.

The NASCAR Wire Service contributed to this report.

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