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Rocket Man? Christopher Bell Marches to Sixth Pole of 2023

Christopher Bell has been a machine in qualifying as of late. That trend continued Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway as he secured his sixth pole in the last 14 NASCAR Cup Series races.


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Do we even need to contest qualifying anymore, at this point? I'm half joking, but after his sixth pole in the last 14 races, Joe Gibbs Racing's Christopher Bell is making a case that he is the modern-day Rocket Man in the NASCAR Cup Series.

On Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Bell clocked in a lap time of 28.980 sec. (186.335 mph) in the final round of qualifying, which was enough to secure him yet another pole position.

RELATED: NASCAR Cup Series South Point 400 Starting Lineup

Did Bell get all of the speed out of the lap?

"I think so," Bell said. "It was flat-lined. I never lifted all the way around. [Larson] didn't either, though. It comes down to horsepower, I guess, and these TRD Camrys have plenty of horsepower. Thankful for all of our partners, glad to put this Rheem Camry on the pole."

The pole-winning run marks the sixth of the season for Bell, and it is the 10th pole position of his young NASCAR Cup Series career.

With a very bumpy track surface at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Bell and the remainder of the field will not be able to stay full throttle over the course of an entire run on the track.

Bell says Sunday's race will come down to who can keep their car under them all race long.

"It changes a lot," Bell explained. "We saw in practice, it was a lot of grip to take off, and then it started losing grip as the run went on. It's going to be about who can keep the most in their car over the period of the run, and move around and find it on the racetrack."

Kyle Larson will start Sunday's South Point 400 from alongside Bell on row 1.

"My car feels really good," Larson said after qualifying. "Yeah, happy to be on the front row. Obviously, would like to be on the pole, but Bell and their team they have a lot of speed in qualifying. Not surprised to see them edge us out."

Larson, who avoided disaster in practice earlier in the morning, when he realized a tire was going down on his No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 and smartly took his car to pit road, was just 0.010 sec. slower than Bell's pole-winning pace in the final round of qualifying.

Behind Bell and Larson, the front-row starters will be William Byron and Martin Truex Jr. in row 2.

Chris Buescher, Kyle Busch, Bubba Wallace, Tyler Reddick, Joey Logano, and Ross Chastain rounded out the top-10 qualifiers in the session.

Here are where the eight NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Contenders will start from in Sunday's race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway:

Christopher Bell (1st)
Kyle Larson (2nd)
William Byron (3rd)
Martin Truex Jr. (4th)
Chris Buescher (5th)
Tyler Reddick (8th)
Ryan Blaney (12th)
Denny Hamlin (15th)

Chase Elliott, who is still in contention for the NASCAR Cup Series owners title, as his No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports team made it into the Round of 8, found trouble on Saturday in practice and was unable to take a time in qualifying.

Around the mid-way point of Group A practice on Saturday morning, Elliott suffered a cut tire, which sent him spinning into the outside wall, which caused tremendous damage to his Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.

Here is a video of the incident for Elliott:

Elliott will start 35th in the 36-car field as a result.

Additionally, Daniel Suarez found trouble in practice in the No. 99 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet.

Suarez had a cut tire 31 laps into a run in Group B practice. The tire issue sent Suarez spinning off of Turn 2, and he collided with a tire barrier on the inside portion of the race track.

Photo Credit: Craig White, Racing America

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