A.J. Allmendinger’s NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) dominance at Circuit of The Americas (COTA) continued during FEVO Friday action, as the 2022 winner of the Pit Boss 250 presented by USA TODAY drove his way to the pole for Saturday’s main event, capturing the pole by 0.502 seconds over Sammy Smith.
“It feels great,” the 41-year-old Kaulig Racing driver said. “Winning the race last year was kind of a good baseline to come back to, but I felt like we needed a good amount of work. With the results that the organization has had this year, they’ve shown more speed everywhere. Qualifying is tough around here, especially in the esses. You can make up a lot of time if you push the edges and get through there.
“To me, it’s one of the most unique road courses in North America. If you look at the road courses we have, they’re a lot of the same thing. This is a racetrack that’s a combination. You’ve got long straightaways and tight sections. I enjoy it. In general, I have a lot of fun here.”
When the green flag falls, Allmendinger will be joined on the front row by the rookie, Smith, who matched his career-best NXS qualifying position. Ty Gibbs, Sheldon Creed and Parker Kligerman rounded out the top five.
In the final round of group qualifying, NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) veteran William Byron ran a 2:12-second lap that would have earned him a top starting position, but it was negated after NASCAR officials deemed that he exceeded track limits on the lap. By not registering a lap in the final qualifying round, he will start 10th.
Chastain Earns XPEL 225 Pole
Ross Chastain, who took the checkered flag for last year’s EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix the last time he strapped in at COTA, picked up right where he left off on FEVO Friday by capturing the pole for the XPEL 225 NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series (NCTS) race with a 2:13.613-second lap on COTA’s 20-turn, 3.41-mile circuit.
After besting the field by more than half a second in qualifying, the watermelon man will start Saturday’s race alongside fellow NCS regular Kyle Busch. Ty Majeski and rookie Nick Sanchez will make up the second row. NCTS points leader Christian Eckes, Carson Hocevar, Zane Smith, Grant Enfinger, Tanner Gray and Kaz Grala rounded out the top 10 in qualifying.
With 39 cars making a qualifying attempt, Alex Bowman, driving for Spire Motorsports, failed to make the field after a flat tire cut his qualifying effort short.
The tripleheader weekend fun continues Saturday with a full slate on on-track action, including the XPEL 225 NCTS race, Pit Boss 250 presented by USA TODAY NXS race and NCS qualifying for Sunday’s third running of the EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix.
— Circuit of The Americas —