DOVER, Del. — When the NASCAR Cup Series took the track Saturday morning for practice and qualifying at Dover Motor Speedway, nobody knew what to expect. Not even Chris Buescher, who qualified on the pole for the first time in his career.
“It is not something that I have ever had a whole lot of emphasis on,” Buescher said. “I guess it wasn’t something I didn’t think we would ever get. I figured we would be able to hit our game right and grab one. It is cool to get it at Dover. We have had some good speed at different times and we are learning a lot with this car.”
Buescher qualified fourth in Group A with a 22.515 and won the pole in the second round with a 22.479 on his first lap.
“I was fortunate enough that Brad [Keselowski] came over and he was seeing some things and helped me with some of the inputs from inside the car and what we were trying to achieve,” Buescher said. “He went out there and had a really good practice and good qualifying effort as well so we were able to apply some of what he was seeing and it turned out really good for us and our qualifying effort.”
But, qualifying didn’t go as smoothly for everyone.
Just a minute into Group A practice, Todd Gilliland backed his Front Row Motorsports Ford into the Turn 3 wall. He suffered minor back-end damage, which the team fixed.
A few moments later, Josh Bilicki crashed hard on the backstretch. He went to a backup car.
In Group B practice, William Byron lost control in Turn 3 and slammed the outside wall. He damaged the left side of his car and also went to a backup car.
“I got through [Turns] 1 and 2 OK getting up to speed. Felt like, because of how it got through 1 and 2, I could get into [Turn] 3 decent,” Byron said. “I don’t know what happened, whether it bottomed out or what, but I just got loose and went up into the fence there.”
Tyler Reddick also suffered damage in various incidents throughout practice. He spun when Byron hit the wall and also slapped the fence exiting Turn 2 later on.
“It’s been an eventful day. Only ran about nine laps, crashed about four times and got lucky twice,” Reddick said. “It feels really fast, but about every five laps, I crash. So, we got some work to do.”
The DuraMAX Drydene 400 presented by RelaDyne is at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday on FS1.