The NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers took part in their first qualifying sessions since February ahead of the first-ever race at Circuit of the Americas. Cup Series driver Kyle Busch took part and put on a show. He posted the fastest lap in the final round and held on to capture the Xfinity Series pole.
The two-time Cup champion got behind the wheel of the No. 54 Toyota Supra on Saturday, May 22, and led the way around a rain-soaked road course. He posted a lap time of 160.349 seconds to score the 69th pole position of his Xfinity Series career. Ross Chastain, a last-minute replacement for Joe Graf Jr., posted the second-fastest time at 160.457 seconds.
Once Busch climbed out of the No. 54 Skittles Gummies Toyota Supra, he stood by and watched as the remaining drivers finished off their laps. Fellow Cup Series driver Cole Custer caused Busch some concern near the end of his qualifying run, putting himself on pace to take the top spot. However, Custer fell off the pace on some tight turns and ultimately posted the third-fastest time at 160.524 seconds.
Busch Has Previous Experience at Circuit of the Americas
The Cup Series veteran is a talented driver with top-tier equipment, but he also entered the session with a slight advantage. He is one of the fortunate few drivers that previously took some trips around COTA in a variety of vehicles.
Back in April, Busch headed to the Austin track with fellow Toyota Racing drivers Daniel Hemric and John Hunter Nemechek. The trio first went around the road course in the Toyota Supra pace car with Busch driving and Nemechek sliding around in the backseat. They then headed out onto COTA in their respective race cars to get a sense of how they would handle the unique road course.
There were two main differences between the April session Saturday’s qualifying sessions. The first is that the track did not feature the turtles (steel rumble trips) on the chicane. The second is that Busch’s laps took place on a sunny day. The qualifying sessions were very wet due to rainfall at the track.
Despite the differences, Busch had no issues posting one of the best times during the first session to reach the final round. He then posted the fastest lap and held on to win. Now he will lead the field to green and strive to win his 98th Xfinity Series win.
The Experience Will Set Busch Up for Success on Sunday
With the qualifying session complete, Busch will take on COTA in the Toyota Supra. He will then switch to his No. 18 Toyota Camry for more action on Sunday. The Cup Series drivers will have to qualify on Sunday morning before competing for the checkered flag.
Busch will not be the only driver competing in both the Xfinity Series and Cup Series races. Multiple others, such as Austin Dillon and Kevin Harvick, will also do so. However, Busch will have the most experience at COTA out of this talented group of drivers, providing him with a potential Texas-sized advantage.
The EchoPark Texas Grand Prix takes place Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET. FS1 will provide coverage with Jeff Gordon, Mike Joy, and Clint Bowyer in the booth. Prior to the 68-lap race, the Cup Series drivers will head onto Circuit of the Americas for two qualifying sessions.