MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Daniel Silvestri caught all the veterans off guard by capturing the pole for the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 Friday night at Martinsville Speedway.
Silvestri, who was scheduled to be the 75th driver to make a qualifying attempt, rocketed to the pole in his Martinsville Speedway debut with a 19.775-second lap around the .526-mile speedway.
He’ll be joined on the front row by veteran Bobby McCarty Saturday’s 200-lap finale after McCarty turned a lap of 19.811 seconds. Silvestri and McCarty are the only drivers who are locked into the race based on their qualifying times. The remainder of the field will be set via four 25-lap heat races Saturday afternoon.
Even Silvestri, a winner earlier this year with the CARS Late Model Stock Tour at Virginia’s Dominion Raceway, was shocked when he found out he’d claimed the pole for the biggest NASCAR late model stock car race in the country.
“I honestly did not see it coming,” Silvestri said. “I was just hoping for a top-20 and when my spotter came on the radio after running my lap saying I was on the pole I couldn’t believe it. I had to check with him twice about that
“You dream about this coming here as a kid and watching Cup races here,” Silvestri said. “You dream about this opportunity. To lead the field to green tomorrow is just going to be so cool.”
The qualifying order was set based on practice times, with the fastest cars going last. Silvestri, a freshman at Virginia Tech, turned the seventh fastest lap in practice during his mock qualifying attempt, but not even that convinced Silvestri he was a threat for the pole.
“We really worked hard the entire day to get the car where it needed to be,” Silvestri said. “I wasn’t sure when we mocked up for qualifying. We were seventh place, which wasn’t a pole showing time, but we figured out where we needed to be for qualifying and we had the adjustment just right where we were loose enough to be fast and be able to run a great lap time.
“I can’t believe it, I’m speechless right now.”
Winning the pole earned Silvestri a $5,000 check from Martinsville Speedway, but perhaps more importantly it means he can sit back and watch the four heat races Saturday afternoon that will set positions three through 40.
“I get to relax tomorrow morning. There is not as much stress. You don’t have to worry about so many different things and we have an advantage with the tire deal,” Silvestri said. “They’re going to have however many laps the heats are on their tires and we’re going to be sitting on two lap tires. So that is going to be huge.”
ARCA Menards Series regular Corey Heim qualified third, but will have to race his way into the event via his heat race Saturday. He was followed by Landon Pembleton, Kaden Honeycutt, Layne Riggs, Sammy Smith, Ryan Wilson, Peyton Sellers and Mike Looney.
Philip Morris, a three-time ValleyStar Credit Union 300 winner making his return to racing for the first time since 2019, qualified 55th and will have his work cut out for him Saturday if he hopes to advance into the 200-lap finale.
Stephen Nasse, who was set to make his debut at Martinsville, withdrew from the race due to a mechanical failure.