William Byron ices Busch Pole Award in Pocono qualifying

William Byron rolled to the Busch Pole Award for the second straight week in Saturday qualifying, earning the No. 1 starting spot for Sunday’s Pocono 400 (2 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM).

Byron navigated the 2.5-mile, three-cornered track to a fast lap of 173.494 mph in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet. The pole position was his third of the season, his first at Pocono and the third of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career.

RELATED: Starting lineup | Pocono schedule

Byron also started first in last weekend’s Coca-Cola 600. He’ll be making the 50th start of his Monster Energy Series career on Sunday.

“This is great,” said the 21-year-old Byron, who is seeking his first premier-series win. “Qualifying, it’s an impound race so it’s good to see our speed is there. Just real excited. The guys have worked really hard on this 24 car. Everybody at Hendrick Motorsports, the engine shop, chassis shop — it means a lot. So, excited for it. Pole day’s been good for us. Keep racking those up, and hopefully rack up a better result on race day, too.”

Kyle Busch’s Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota will flank Byron on Sunday’s front row after claiming the No. 2 starting spot with a lap of 172.629 mph. Clint Bowyer qualified third with Erik Jones fourth to make up the second row for Sunday’s starting grid. Brad Keselowski rounded out the top five in qualifying.

JJ Yeley had the lone incident of the session with a spin off Turn 2 in the Rick Ware Racing No. 52 Chevrolet. Yeley’s car barely scrubbed the outside wall, but he was able to drive back to pit road without significant damage.

Defending race winner Martin Truex Jr. earned the 20th starting spot with the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Toyota. He’ll be going for his second straight Monster Energy Series victory, on the heels of his win last weekend in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte.

To expedite the qualifying process, NASCAR officials sent out cars for their qualifying runs in groups of three, with each car spaced at 15-second intervals. Teams were informed that any perceived attempt to use an aerodynamic draft in the format could result in their qualifying lap being disallowed.

Sunday’s 400-miler is the 14th of 36 points-paying races for the Monster Energy Series. The event kicks off the second half of the series’ regular season.

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