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The lineup for Sunday’s Pala Casino 400 was set per the series rulebook and Bell – who finished third in last weekend’s season-opening Daytona 500 – will claim the top starting position.
Bell, who drives the No. 20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, has struggled in two previous starts at the 2-mile speedway.
In 2020, his rookie year, Bell’s day ended early when a jack bolt went through the radiator of his car. Last season, Bell started 19th and raced his way up to 13th when he reported he lost water pressure. The team brought him in to blow out the vents and add water.
Bell finished Stage 1 but shortly after a spin in Stage 2 the car overheated and ended his day in 36th.
“I really enjoy Fontana the race track but it hasn’t liked me back,” Bell said. “Statistically it is one of my worst race tracks, but I really enjoy the challenge of it and the layout of it.
“Hopefully we have a good showing this time.”
Joining Bell on the front row is Daytona 500 champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who will enjoy his best start in a race since he started second in the 2021 Bristol Dirt Race.
Matt Kenseth in 2009 was the last driver to win the Daytona 500 and second race of the season a week later. Jeff Gordon in 1997 was the only other driver to go back-to-back to begin a year.
Joey Logano will line up third, Alex Bowman fourth and Chris Buescher will round out the top-five.
Completing the top-10 are A.J. Allmendinger, Daniel Suarez, Ross Chastain, Ryan Blaney and Kevin Harvick.
Kyle Larson, who won last season’s race, will line up 15th.
NASCAR will still try to get the Xfinity Series race in today, saying: “This afternoon’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race remains on schedule. NASCAR will continue to monitor the forecast. Stay tuned for updates regarding today’s race.”