INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Daniel Suarez posted the fastest lap time in Brickyard 200 qualifying Saturday, claiming his first pole since July 2019.
The Mexican driver completed Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course in 1 minute, 27.968 seconds. Tyler Reddick qualified second after posting a fast lap of 1:28.113 while Chase Elliott, the 2020 series champ, will start third.
It was a solid start for all three, each of whom started the weekend below the NASCAR playoff cutline.
Shane van Gisbergen, Suarez’s teammate with Trackhouse Racing, will start eighth Sunday after going 1:28.544. The New Zealander won his only other Cup race, on the streets of Chicago last month. He became the first driver to win in his series debut since three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Johnny Rutherford in 1963 and will try to become the first driver in NASCAR history to win his first two career starts.
William Byron owns a series high four wins this season but will start from the back of the field after being barred from Saturday’s qualifying after failing three pre-qualifying inspections Friday. Byron begins the weekend second in the standings but also will be assessed a drive-thru penalty under the green flag as a result of the failed inspections.
“It’s unfortunate and we just have to try to be as efficient as we can to start the race to try to work our way through that — not making any mistakes on the drive-thru, make sure we don’t speed on pit road or anything like that,” Byron said. “Then I think the strategy and pace of our car has been good, so we just have to work the strategy.”
Japanese driver Kamui Kobayashi, the 2021 Le Mans winner, did not advance to the final round after hitting the wall in the waning seconds of the first round of qualifications.
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