Daniel Suarez was the final driver to qualify Friday night at Kentucky Speedway, and he made the most of it.
Suarez knocked his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate, Aric Almirola, off the pole with a lap of 184.590mph (29.254 seconds). It is the first pole of the season for Suarez, his first at Kentucky, and the second of his NASCAR Cup Series career.
“I was comfortable because we show a lot of speed in race trim, but these races are really tricky because you work so hard in race trim and then you make one q-trim and you hope for the best,” said Suarez. “You don’t really set up your car for one lap, you set up your car for race trim and hope that qualifying trim is good enough. That’s exactly what we did.
“To be honest, as soon as I opened my lap and went through corner 1 and 2, I knew I had a rocket. I knew that if I wasn’t going to make the pole, it was going to be because of me. Luckily I made it and I didn’t make my team look bad, because the car was extremely fast.”
For the fifth time this season, Almirola will start second after putting down a lap of 183.799 mph. It’s also the sixth time that Almirola has been on the front row of a Cup Series race this year.
Fellow Ford driver Brad Keselowski will start third at 183.443mph. Kurt Busch was fourth at 183.355mph, and Kevin Harvick completed the top five at 183.312mph.
Rounding out the top 10 were Daniel Hemric at 182.890mph, Clint Bowyer at 182.834mph, defending race winner Martin Truex Jr. at 182.587mph, Austin Dillon at 182.556mph, and Kyle Busch at 182.426mph.
Starting further back will be Joey Logano in 11th, William Byron 12th, and Jimmie Johnson 13th. Drivers coming from outside the top 15 will be Denny Hamlin in 18th, Kyle Larson 19th, Chase Elliott 20th, and Alex Bowman 22nd.
All results are unofficial until inspection takes place Saturday afternoon.
UP NEXT: Quaker State 400 at 7:30 p.m. ET Saturday.