Alex Bowman will start from the pole at Richmond Raceway for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race after rain canceled Saturday’s practice and qualifying sessions.
Bowman, who moved back into the points lead this week when the Hendrick Motorsports teams had their points reinstated by the appeals panel, starts from the top spot through the metric — a weighted combination of the driver’s fastest lap and finish in the previous race, owner race finish, and owner points position.
“Pit stall selection, I think, is probably the biggest thing,” Bowman said of being on the pole after getting his 100 points reinstated from the Hendrick Motorsports appeal of the hood louvers earlier this week. “You’d probably still have a pretty good pit stall selection fifth, though. So, not a huge difference, but obviously, having clean air at the start is important.
“Hopefully, we’ll take advantage of a good pit pick and have a good solid day. This has been a hard place for me to get ahold of in the past, even with a win. We’ll just try to maximize the day and keep chipping away at it.”
Bowman finished eighth in the spring race at Richmond a year ago, but his average finish at Richmond is 19.6.
“It’s been tough,” Bowman said. “We’ve had good days here and then we’ve had really bad days. You have a good day here and I’ve left, like last spring or the race that we won, and I’m like, ‘Man, I know exactly what I need and I know the feel that I want to have.’ And then, come back in the fall and be confused and can’t find that and can’t get the race car to do the same thing and feel the same way.
“It’s just been a little more hit and miss than we want to be, but I think identified some things that can help me, and hopefully, we’ve gone in the right direction with the race car and will be strong tomorrow.”
Bowman will be joined on the front row by Kyle Busch, who is a six-time winner at Richmond.
William Byron starts third, Ross Chastain starts fourth, and Tyler Reddick fifth. Reddick enters Richmond off a win at Circuit of The Americas with his new 23XI Racing team.
Austin Cindric starts sixth, Chris Buescher starts seventh and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. starts eighth. Kyle Larson starts ninth, and Kevin Harvick starts 10th.
Denny Hamlin starts 11th at one of his home racetracks. Hamlin is the defending race winner.
Back in the No. 9 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports, Josh Berry starts 30th. Sunday will be Berry’s fourth start substituting for the injured Chase Elliott.
Anthony Alfredo makes his first start in the No. 78 for Live Fast Motorsports at Richmond. Alfredo starts 35th.
Chandler Smith makes his Cup Series debut in the No. 13 for Kaulig Racing. Smith brings up the rear of the field in 37th.
Rain also washed out Xfinity Series practice and qualifying at Richmond. The inclement weather is expected to clear out Saturday afternoon and the forecast looks good for the rest of the weekend.