Two-time Las Vegas champ Josh Berry captures pole position for Alsco Uniforms 302
Two-time Las Vegas Motor Speedway winner Josh Berry will be back out front for Saturday’s Alsco Uniforms 302 NASCAR Xfinity Series race after earning the pole position during Friday’s qualifying session.
Berry, driving the No. 8 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports, turned a lap of 181.996 mph (29.671 seconds) around the 1.5-mile tri-oval for his third pole position of the season and fourth of his career.
“I felt like I left a little bit out there,” said Berry, who will be racing full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series for Stewart-Haas Racing next year. “The car is really solid. [Las Vegas] is definitely a favorite of mine. [Saturday] will be a completely different day but overall this is a really good start.”
The Alsco Uniforms 302 (Saturday, 12:30 p.m. Pacific Time, USA Network, PRN, Sirius XM) is the opening race in the Round of 8 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series playoffs. Berry was one of the original 12 playoff drivers but was eliminated from championship contention last week at Charlotte.
“It’s important for us to end this [season] the best we can,” Berry said. “We’re disappointed to be out of the playoffs but we’re really hungry to go to Victory Lane.”
Xfinity Series points leader John Hunter Nemechek did not make a qualifying effort after his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota suffered an oil leak during Friday’s practice session.
“I feel like we’re one of the best cars,” Nemechek said. “It sucks not to qualify but things like this happen. What makes a true championship team is overcoming it. We have fast cars. I just have to go do my job [Saturday].”
Cole Custer, the lone Ford remaining in championship contention, posted the fastest practice speed with a speed of 177.772 mph (30.376 seconds) and finished second in qualifying with a lap of 181.702 mph (29.719 seconds).
“Our guys have worked so hard on mile-and-a-half tracks this year,” Custer said. “It’s going to be a long race but I think we have what it takes to stay up there.”
Among other playoff contenders, Xfinity Series rookies Sammy Smith and Chandler Smith will start third and fourth, respectively. Justin Allgaier qualified seventh with Austin Hill in 10th, Sam Mayer in 14th and Sheldon Creed in 15th. Las Vegan Riley Herbst qualified eighth.
Las Vegas native Kyle Busch holds the Xfinity Series qualifying record at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with a lap of 185.58 mph (29.098 seconds) turned in 2017.
Tickets remain for both races this weekend.