McDowell claims Talladega Cup pole

Michael McDowell will start from the pole at Talladega Superspeedway after earning his second Cup Series pole Saturday morning.

McDowell was the final driver to take time in single-car qualifying and went to the top of the leaderboard at 182.022mph (52.609s). The Front Row Motorsports driver has started on the front row in his No. 34 Ford Mustang Dark Horse in all three superspeedway-style races. He was second in Daytona 500 qualifying and won the pole at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Austin Cindric qualified second at 181.739mph and Todd Gilliland, McDowell’s teammate, qualified third at 181.40mph. Kyle Busch, the defending race winner, qualified fourth at 181.147mph and Austin Dillon qualified fifth at 180.785mph.

Martin Truex Jr. qualified sixth at 180.707mph, Joey Logano qualified seventh at 180.529mph, and Chris Buescher qualified eighth at 180.274mph. Chase Elliott qualified ninth at 180.264mph and Christopher Bell qualified 10th at 180.007mph.

Ford is represented by five drivers inside the top 10. The manufacturer is still winless going into Sunday’s race.

Ryan Preece, another Ford driver, qualified 11th. Alex Bowman qualified 12 with William Byron qualifying 13th, former Talladega winner Bubba Wallace qualifying 14th, and Ty Gibbs qualifying 15th.

Shane van Gisbergen qualified 17th. Sunday will be van Gisbergen’s first Cup Series start on an oval.

Ryan Blaney qualified 21st. Denny Hamlin qualified 23rd.

Cody Ware qualified 34th in his return to the Cup Series. Sunday will be Ware’s first start in the series since being reinstated by NASCAR after an indefinite suspension in 2023 following charges of domestic assault. Those charges were later dropped.

Kyle Larson did not make a qualifying lap and will start last. NASCAR pulled the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports car from the grid because of an unapproved adjustment to the roof rails.


Story originally appeared on Racer