For the first time, Bubba Wallace will start a NASCAR Cup Series race on pole.
The driver of the No. 23 scorched the track at Michigan International Speedway on Saturday as the only driver to break 190 mph in the final round of qualifying. He ended the session with an average lap speed of 190.703 mph, earning the first Cup Series pole of his career.
The pole is also the first for 23XI Racing, which began fielding cars in 2021.
“‘Bout time,” Wallace told NBC Sports after climbing out of the car. “Took me five years to get my first pole.”
Wallace wasn’t the only driver of a Toyota car to find success on the track in Michigan Saturday. Christopher Bell and Kyle Busch will start second and third, right behind Wallace, and all six of the Toyota entries earned top-11 starting spots for Sunday’s race.
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Wallace’s performance in qualifying adds to a strong recent stretch of drives for the 28-year-old, who will make his 171st Cup Series start this weekend. He’s finished in the top-10 in the last three races, including a third-place finish in New Hampshire and a fifth-place finish at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“Everybody on this No. 23 team, we’ve been doing a tremendous job all year long, really just haven’t had the finishes that we deserve,” Wallace said, per NBC Sports. “… We keep showing up ready to battle. That means a lot.
“Now the real job is tomorrow, right?” he added. “We know that’s a totally different ballgame.”
Wallace will seek to come away with his second Cup Series race victory when The FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway gets underway at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday.
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