BRISTOL, Tenn. — Noah Gragson laid down a blistering 15.159-second lap (126.578 mph) around Bristol Motor Speedway in the third and final round of group qualifying to earn his first NASCAR K&N Pro Series East pole.
The Camping World Truck Series regular and Las Vegas, Nevada native broke the previous K&N Pro East track record by over four miles per hour. He was second quickest in the one and only practice session.
Harrison Burton held the previous record with his pole run of 122.139 in 2016.
“I didn’t think it was going to be fast,” Gragson said following his pole run. “I was hitting the race track. Todd (Gilliland) looked like he was pulling away. So I didn’t think it was going to be that good. But then they told me to shut it down, so I figured I had something good. But hey, we’re on the pole. That’s awesome. I’m excited.”
— NASCAR Home Tracks (@NASCARHomeTrack) April 13, 2018
Gragson has leaned on his truck team owner, Kyle Busch, for advice while running around Thunder Valley. Busch has six Cup victories around the World’s Fastest Half-Mile, and tried to share some pertinent information with Gragson ahead of this weekend.
“I talked to him a lot before the truck race here last year,” Gragson said. “And he stomped (us) pretty good there. He’s helped me quite a bit, just little things. I really wanted to beat him bad. He’s been a huge help to me. Really using all the knowledge I’ve gained from him throughout the past year of working at Kyle Busch Motorsports, I put it all into that lap.”
Gragson had one pole in 27 K&N Pro West starts and none in 15 previous East races, before moving up to the Camping World Truck Series.
Tyler Dippel will roll off second thanks to his lap of 15.230 (125.988). Two-time K&N Pro West champion Todd Gilliland will start third, with Tyler Ankrum and Spencer Davis rounding out the top five.
Brandon McReynolds, Burton, Cole Rouse, Tanner Thorson and Reid Lanpher completed the top 10 qualifiers. Burton is the defending race winner.
The green flag for the Zombie Auto 150 is scheduled to fly Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. ET.