After turning a blistering lap on Saturday at Michigan International Speedway, Bubba Wallace had no idea he had won the pole for Sunday’s Firekeepers Casino 400 (3 p.m. ET on USA, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Moments after completing his final-round lap in 37.755 seconds (190.703 mph), Wallace continued through Turns 1 and 2 to dead silence on his team radio.
“I felt really good about the lap, and I was on the wrong channel, and so it was quiet all the way to the backstretch,” Wallace said. “And I’m like ‘Great, I don’t know where we ended up.’ And I was on the wrong channel, and they told me I won the pole.”
The Busch Light Pole Award was the first of Wallace’s career and the first for 23XI Racing as an organization.
“About time,” Wallace said. “It took me five years to get my first pole. It’s a testament to 23XI, everybody on the No. 23 team. They’ve been doing a tremendous job all year long, really. Just haven’t had the finishes we deserve, but proud for everybody just sticking through it.
“A lot of adversity on this team, and we keep showing up ready to battle.”
The last driver to make a qualifying run, Wallace knocked fellow Toyota driver Christopher Bell (189.898 mph) off the provisional pole by a whopping .160 seconds. Kyle Busch was third fastest at 189.868 mph as Toyotas swept the top three starting spots.
That could be significant, given that five of the last six Michigan races have been won from starting positions of third or better. The exception was the second race of 2020, when the top 20 finishers from the previous day were inverted to start the second leg of a weekend doubleheader.
Kevin Harvick swept those two races from positions three and 20 on the grid.
In Saturday’s time trials, Ford teammates Joey Logano and Austin Cindric qualified fourth and fifth, respectively, with Tyler Reddick, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin and Erik Jones completing the top 10.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!