In one of the few qualifying sessions the NASCAR Cup Series has had this season, Almirola went out early and held off all comers to earn the pole for Sunday’s inaugural Ally 400 at Nashville (Tenn.) Superspeedway.
Almirola, who was 12th fastest in Saturday’s lone practice session, put up an average lap speed of 161.992 mph to won his first pole since the 2019 season.
This year, Almirola’s best start was third in the season-opening Daytona 500 and he’d only started 16th or best on four occasions.
“That’s been the hard part about this year – we got in a wreck at Daytona and immediately it puts you in a hole. Every race thereafter just keeps compounding and last week just always haunts you,” Almirola said.
“You can’t ever start fresh the next week because you’re starting deep in the field. Then we’ve had a lot of other trouble and we’re buried in points. It’s so hard to build any momentum off that.
“Finally, a good weekend, to come here and qualify on the pole.”
Kyle Busch, who won Saturday’s Xfinity Series race, ended up second-fastest (161.910 mph), Joey Logano was third (161.850 mph), William Byron was fourth (161.691 mph) and Kyle Larson (161.495 mph) rounded out the top-five.
Completing the top-10 lineup are Chase Elliott, Cole Custer, Alex Bowman, Erik Jones and Ryan Blaney.