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NASCAR Cup: Chase Elliott claims Watkins Glen pole

WATKINS GLEN, NEW YORK – AUGUST 03: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA AUTO PARTS ChevroletChase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet,poses with the pole award after qualifying for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Go Bowling at The Glen at Watkins Glen International on August 03, 2019 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

By AMANDA VINCENT

Chase Elliott celebrated his first-career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win the last time the series visited Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International in 2018. On Sunday, he’ll begin his bid of a second-straight win at The Glen from a pole. He posted a 69.287-second/127.297 mph lap in the second of two-rounds of qualifying Saturday to claim the pole for Sunday’s GoBowling.com at The Glen, his third pole of 2019 and the seventh of his career but his first pole at Watkins Glen.

“Qualifying well here is important, because the strategy is important, pitting these cars backwards,” Elliott said. “You need good pit selection and track position. This is a great result for our NAPA Chevy team.”

Hendrick Motorsports nabbed a front-row sweep with Elliott’s teammate Byron qualifying for the second position. Meanwhile, Joe Gibbs Racing put three cars in the first three rows of the starting grid with Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. in row two in the third and fourth starting positions and their teammate Denny Hamlin in sixth.

“Qualified fourth, and we’ve been third or fourth here every year,” Truex said. “Still quite haven’t figured out how to get the front row, but worked hard on it, there, and worked hard all day. We had a decent practice. We lacked a little bit of speed, but felt like our car on the long runs was really good. Starting fourth I think is a good spot. You don’t have to start first; you just have to be near the front all day and, hopefully, do all those things right strategy-wise and the way cautions fall and all that. Got a good spot to start and see what we can do with it.”

Kyle Larson was fifth to share row three on the grid with Hamlin.

“It was good,” Larson said of his qualifying attempt. “I feel like I’ve been running as good as I could today. Just off on speed compared to the No. 9 (Elliott) and the No. 18 (Busch). We got closer, there, in qualifying and felt like I ran a good lap. I just gave up time in the carousel. I’ve got to work on that on my end. But it was a good effort for our McDonald’s team.”

Chevrolet and Toyota drivers posted the eight fastest laps in the second 12-driver round of qualifying. Aric Almirola was the top Ford driver in ninth.

Watkins Glen is the first road-course on the Cup schedule since NASCAR returned to a single-car qualifying format. With the return to road-course racing, the sanctioning body reverted back to its multi-round, multi-car qualifying format. Saturday evenings session was two rounds, with 12 fastest cars from round one advancing to the second round to vie for the pole.

Elliott also was fastest in the opening round with a 69.602-second/126.720 mph lap.

While JGR put three of its drivers in the second round and eventually into the first three rows of the grid, unofficially, the remaining Gibbs driver struggled in the opening round. Erik Jones brought out the red flag with a blown right-front tire in the first 10 minutes of the 25-minute round. His team was allowed to change the tire for Jones to make another attempt. he wound up 14th.

“I just missed my mark,” Jones said. “I just got in too hot and locked the right-front up enough that it blew it out. That’s not what you want to do. I kind of thought we were done, and I didn’t realize that the rule was that if you don’t complete a lap you get to come back in and change tires. We put another tire on it and the DeWalt Camry had good speed. I was just a little conservative on my lap, which I think you can probably understand why after the first time. Still, a good starting spot. It has more speed than that, so it’s frustrating in that way, but still nice that we’re starting off better than dead last where we thought we were going to be.”

Other drivers qualifying in the top-10 include Kurt Busch in seventh, Jimmie Johnson eighth and Brad Keselowski in 10th.

Below, is the unofficial starting grid for the GoBowling.com at The Glen:

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Posted by on August 4, 2019. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,Monster Energy NASCAR Cup,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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