It’s been 431 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races since Clint Bowyer last sat on the pole. That streak ends for Sunday’s South Point 400 (7 p.m. ET/NBCSN/PRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The Stewart-Haas Racing driver circled the Las Vegas Motor Speedway with a speed of 178.926 mph in his No. 14 Ford en route to just his third career Busch Pole Award and first since New Hampshire in 2007.
“Something is wrong with them if I beat them to a pole,” Bowyer said on Saturday. I’m telling you that car is a bullet. I did not see this coming. This is a little bit of a surprise for me.”
Bowyer, will have some familiar faces up front too. All three of his teammates will start in the top four as SHR went 1-2-3-4 in qualifying on Saturday afternoon from the Nevada desert.
Daniel Suarez will start second in his No. 41 Ford while Kevin Harvick and Aric Almirola will split Row 2.
For Harvick, it’s his fourth top eight starting spot in the last five races. For Almirola, it’s his seventh top 10 starting spot in the last 10 races.
Kurt Busch (178.112 mph) was best in the next class in his No. 1 Chevrolet as he’ll roll off fifth on Sunday. Busch, was also quickset in final practice while Bowyer was quickest in the opening practice on Friday afternoon.
The big surprise is Team Penske. They’ve won the last two Vegas Cup races including going 1-2 back in March. Instead, they’ll start 18th (Brad Keselowski), 22nd (Joey Logano) and 23rd (Ryan Blaney) respectively.
Joe Gibbs Racing will start 13th (Denny Hamlin), 20th (Kyle Busch), 24th (Martin Truex Jr.) and 26th (Erik Jones) respectively.
Richard Childress Racing will start P6 (Daniel Hemric) and P7 (Austin Dillon) respectively to give SHR and RCR six of the top seven starting spots. In fact, seven of the top 12 starting positions for the opening playoff race was taken by non playoff drivers.
With so many playoff cars coming from the midpack on back, it should be an exciting race.
South Point 400 Starting Lineup
Row 1: Clint Bowyer, Daniel Suarez
Row 2: Kevin Harvick, Aric Almirola
Row 3: Kurt Busch, Daniel Hemric R
Row 4: Austin Dillon, Chase Elliott
Row 5: Jimmie Johnson, Michael McDowell
Row 6: David Ragan, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Row 7: Denny Hamlin, William Byron
Row 8: Kyle Larson, Ryan Preece R
Row 9: Ryan Newman, Brad Keselowski
Row 10: Alex Bowman, Kyle Busch
Row 11: Paul Menard, Joey Logano
Row 12: Ryan Blaney, Martin Truex Jr.
Row 13: Matt DiBenedetto, Erik Jones
Row 14: Ty Dillon, Chris Buescher
Row 15: Matt Tifft R, Landon Cassill
Row 16: Darrell Wallace Jr., Ross Chastain
Row 17: Corey LaJoie, Garrett Smithley
Row 18: Reed Sorenson, Joe Nemechek
Row 19: Joey Gase