SHR’s cars fill top four starting spots
TALLADEGA, Ala. — Kurt Busch led a Stewart-Haas Racing sweep to put all four of the company cars up front at Talladega Superspeedway for today’s NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at the troublesome track.
Busch turned a lap at 195.804 mph to qualify in the top spot. He edged teammate Clint Bowyer, who qualified second, ahead of Kevin Harvick and Aric Almirola as the Ford horsepower built by Doug Yates’ engine shop proved superior.
“Four Stewart-Haas Racing Fords up front, I’m just happy I had the fastest one,” said Busch, who will start on the pole at Talladega for the first time.
All four SHR drivers are still part of the 12-driver championship field, which will be trimmed by four after next weekend’s race at Kansas Speedway. Almirola and Bowyer are tied for ninth in the playoff standings, barely holding on to transfer positions.
Hendrick Motorsports had the next-fastest fleet as the Chevrolets driven by Chase Elliott, Jimmie Johnson, Alex Bowman and William Byron qualified in slots five through eight.
“All four guys in the top 12 is a strong showing for us,” Byron said. “Qualifying doesn’t reflect totally on how things will shake out Sunday and how you are going to race. But it should be fine. With the four of us together at the start, we have an opportunity to stay in front of some of the possible situations.”
The Toyota group followed as Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin qualified ninth and 10th, followed by reigning Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr.
The remaining four playoff drivers were Brad Keselowski, who qualified 18th, Ryan Blaney (19th), Joey Logano (20th) and Kyle Larson (34th).
Trucks: Peters wins
Timothy Peters bumped leader Noah Gragson out of his way on the final lap, then blocked traffic for the final mile to win Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race at Talladega.
It was the 11th series victory of Peters’ career and his third at Talladega, the most wins at the Alabama track among truck drivers.
“If I kept my head on straight, I knew I had a chance to win,” said Peters, who at 38 years old has been relegated to a partial schedule.
“I wish my phone would ring a little more frequently,” said Peters, who thanked GMS Racing for the three-race deal that put him back into victory lane for the first time since 2015.
Peters didn’t lead until the final lap of the crash-packed playoff race. He had to force Gragson out of his way to get to the front.
Myatt Snider wound up second and David Gilliland third.
Stewart Friesen and Ben Rhodes were eliminated from the playoff field. The six drivers still in title contention are Gragson, Matt Crafton, Grant Enfinger, Justin Haley, Brett Moffitt and Johnny Sauter.