We’ve all been down on the Hendrick Motorsports camp this season. While they’ve shown some improvement over the last two weeks, everyone has questioned the overall speed in their race cars.
But, for the third time in the first eight races to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, they have swept the front row.
Chase Elliott broke the Bristol (Tenn) Motor Speedway track record in the third and final round of knockout qualifying on Friday en route to his fifth career pole, his first though away from a restrictor plate track.
Elliott’s previous four poles all came at either Daytona or Talladega. Now, he notches at pole on the .533-mile high banked Tennessee oval.
The Georgia native circled the track with a speed of 131.713 mph in his No. 9 Chevrolet which is good enough to start first in Sunday’s Food City 500 (2 p.m. ET/FS1/PRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Joining Elliott on the front row will be his HMS teammate William Byron. The second year driver qualified his No. 24 Chevrolet with a speed of 131.371 mph as he will start on the outside of the front row for the second straight week.
Last week, Byron joined Jimmie Johnson on the front row at Texas. For the season opener at Daytona, it was Byron on the pole and Johnson second.
Elliott, is the third HMS driver to win a pole this season and seventh Cup driver overall in 2019.
Ryan Blaney was fastest in practice on Friday as well as quickest in the first two rounds of qualifying, but he was only third overall in the round that counted. Blaney, qualified with a speed of 131.182 mph in his No. 12 Ford.
Last year, Blaney led 100 laps in the spring race before being caught up in a crash while trying to put lapped cars another lap down. He also led 121 laps in the August night race.
Joining Blaney in Row 2 is Joe Gibbs Racing’s Erik Jones. Last week, Jones finished fourth in his No. 20 Toyota. This week, Jones (131.057 mph) will start there.
Jones’ JGR teammate and two-time race winner in 2019, Denny Hamlin (130.700 mph) rounded out the top five.
Food City 500 Starting Lineup
Row 1: Chase Elliott, William Byron
Row 2: Ryan Blaney, Erik Jones
Row 3: Denny Hamlin, Aric Almirola
Row 4: Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer
Row 5: Paul Menard, Jimmie Johnson
Row 6: Ryan Newman, Brad Keselowski
Row 7: Kevin Harvick, Alex Bowman
Row 8: Austin Dillon, Kyle Larson
Row 9: Kyle Busch, Michael McDowell
Row 10: Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Daniel Suarez
Row 11: Matt DiBenedetto, David Ragan
Row 12: Martin Truex Jr., Ty Dillon
Row 13: Chris Buescher, Daniel Hemric R
Row 14: Kurt Busch, Darrell Wallace Jr.
Row 15: Matt Tifft R, Ryan Preece R
Row 16: Landon Cassill, Corey LaJoie
Row 17: Gray Gaulding, Bayley Currey
Row 18: Timmy Hill Quin Houff
Row 19: Ross Chastain