FORT WORTH, Texas — Kyle Busch pulled away from Ryan Blaney in the final round of bracket-elimination qualifying to take the pole for Sunday’s NASCAR All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway.
Busch and his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing team defeated Martin Truex Jr. in round one and Kyle Larson in round two prior to their faceoff victory over Blaney.
“Anytime you’re able to showcase the pit crews ability and have them and their athleticism in this competition and in this qualifying format, I enjoy that,” Busch said. “I think that’s my most favorite part of the year, coming to the All-Star race. Whether it’s Charlotte and coming down pit road and sliding into the box, but having those guys go over the wall certainly means a lot, Especially, this No. 18 bunch that I’ve had a lot of success with over the years, obviously changed up a few times, most recently, but we’ve always been a threat to be reckoned with when it comes to getting on the pole for the All-Star race. It feels good to have that today.”
The top eight from the first round of qualifying transferred into the new eight-team elimination bracket to set the field.
Through this new format, the pit crew’s abilities were on full display with pit stops to start off each head-to-head matchup, followed by an out-lap race to the start/finish line to determine the winner.
Blaney, in the Team Penske No. 12 Ford will start alongside Busch on the front row, with the Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolets of William Byron and Kyle Larson starting third and fourth.
“It was decent, I guess. It was better than doing nothing,” Blaney said. “It puts a big emphasis on the pit crew, for sure. Our only job is to not stall it getting to the box and stop on the sign. I think a couple of guys did stall. It puts a big emphasis on those guys and their skillset. I am saying it is good because it worked out decent for us. If it went bad for us, I would be saying the opposite. It was unique and I thought our guys did a good job. We got hurt on the lane choice there. I thought the bottom was better but we aren’t in a bad spot for tomorrow.”
Earlier in the evening, Tyler Reddick notched the pole for the All-Star Open with a 28.88-second lap of the 1.5-mile track. Reddick, however, will have to start at the rear of the field due to some changes the No. 8 team has to make to the car.
“It drove great, I feel like I could’ve been more adventurous coming up to speed, run a little bit higher, through three and four,” Reddick said. “But ultimately, I definitely could’ve got a little more through one and two, but I mean, considering all things, we qualified first for the open.”
Four drivers from the Open will transfer into the All-Star race, between the winners of each stage (3), and the fan vote.