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Wade Payne/Associated Press

Rookie Erik Jones captured the first pole of his NASCAR Cup Series career Friday by topping qualifying at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee.

The 21-year-old beat out Kyle Larson for the No. 1 spot, and he will lead the field for Saturday’s Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race.

Here is a look at the entire starting lineup and their qualifying times, courtesy of NASCAR.com:

1. Erik Jones: 14.981

2. Kyle Larson: 14.984

3. Kasey Kahne: 15.005

4. Chase Elliott: 15.031

5. Matt Kenseth: 15.042

6. Martin Truex Jr.: 15.046

7. Denny Hamlin: 15.062

8. Joey Logano: 15.108

9. Clint Bowyer: 15.117

10. Ryan Blaney: 15.126

11. Jamie McMurray: 15.225

12. Daniel Suarez: 15.244

13. Ryan Newman: 15.100

14. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: 15.108

15. Chris Buescher: 15.120

16. Austin Dillon: 15.121

17. Brad Keselowski: 15.133

18. Kyle Busch: 15.143

19. David Ragan: 15.146

20. Trevor Bayne: 15.179

21. Jimmie Johnson: 15.181

22. Ty Dillon: 15.230

23. AJ Allmendinger: 15.337

24. Danica Patrick: 15.403

25. Kurt Busch: 15.194

26. Michael McDowell: 15.212

27. Paul Menard: 15.255

28. Aric Almirola: 15.255

29. Kevin Harvick: 15.259

30. JJ Yeley: 15.282

31. Dale Earnhardt Jr.: 15.287

32. Cole Whitt: 15.329

33. Landon Cassill: 15.376

34. Matt DiBenedetto: 15.406

35. Corey LaJoie: 15.453

36. BJ McLeod: 15.503

37. Gray Gaulding: 15.531

38. Jeffrey Earnhardt: 15.554

39. Reed Sorenson: 15.623

40. Joey Gase: 15.777

Following his impressive showing, Jones expressed a great deal of satisfaction with his car and his chances heading toward Saturday’s race, as seen in this video from NASCAR on NBC:


The top 16 drivers in the standings qualify for the playoffs, and Jones is 19th currently.

Since he trails 16th-place Matt Kenseth by 130 points, he will likely need a win in order to get himself inside the top 16.

Jones has been on a roll as of late, and he is coming off his best career Cup Series finish as he came in third last week at Michigan.

Several drivers in need of a win to either solidify their playoff spot or ascend to one qualified inside the top 10 as well, including Chase Elliott, Kenseth, Joey Logano and Clint Bowyer.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. also needs a victory to end his final NASCAR Cup Series season with a championship opportunity, but as seen in this tweet from NASCAR’s official Twitter account, he struggled Friday:


Among those who also had a difficult time in qualifying was Kyle Busch, who failed to reach the final stage and settled for 18th.

The former Cup Series champion struggled with his handling during his second-round run:


Busch’s poor run was surprising considering his five wins at Bristol are tied for the most among active drivers with his brother, Kurt Busch.

Jimmie Johnson won at Bristol earlier this season, and he will also be forced to work his way through the field after qualifying 21st.

With just three races remaining before the playoffs start, there are few opportunities for drivers to punch their ticket into the Chase.

Bristol could be ripe for the picking due to its wild and unpredictable nature, and Jones has put himself in better position than anyone else to clinch a valuable playoff spot.



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