Christopher Bell won the pole for Sunday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway, the middle race of the Round of 12 of the playoffs.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver turned a lap at 180.591 mph in his Toyota in Saturday qualifying to top reigning NASCAR champion Kyle Larson, in a Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports. Denny Hamlin, teammates with Bell at Gibbs, qualified third and was followed by the Stewart-Haas Racing Fords of Aric Almirola and Chase Briscoe.
Bell was the most consistent playoff driver in the first round, but a crash last week in the second-round opener dropped him to 11th in the standings. The field will be cut from 12 to eight next Sunday on the Roval at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Ross Chastain, who won at Talladega in the spring, qualified sixth in a Chevrolet for Trackhouse Racing. Noah Gragson, the replacement driver at Hendrick Motorsports for Alex Bowman, who is out with a concussion, was seventh.
After qualifying eighth, Tyler Reddick was visibly upset over hitting a NASCAR official when he couldn’t get his car stopped as she guided him on pit road following his run.
Kelly Sullivan was knocked down by Reddick’s car and was treated for what appeared to be an ankle injury.
“We were coasting in and I thought I was going to be a lot further down pit road, and last minute, they wanted me to turn in here,” Reddick said. “I just screwed that up.”
The collision seemed to damage Reddick’s car, but he wasn’t focused on that.
“That’s not really important. I am just glad she is not seriously hurt,” Reddick said. “If I wouldn’t have hit her, she’d be in great health, but I’m really glad she’s able to walk. That’s what is important, that she’s OK and she can put weight on her leg.”
Reddick said he planned to check on Sullivan again later Saturday.