Christopher Bell claims pole for Cup race in New Hampshire

LOUDON, N.H. -- Joe Gibbs Racing driver Christopher Bell turned the fastest qualifying lap of 124.781 mph at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and will lead the field to green for Sunday's NASCAR Cup race.

JGR swept the front row in Saturday's qualifying session with Bell joined by teammate Martin Truex Jr. Truex hit 124.752 mph in his No. 19 Toyota. Ford drivers took the next three spots with Aric Almirola followed by Team Penske teammates Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney.

Bell won his first pole of the season and fifth in 128 career Cup races.

He has one win this season and is one of 11 drivers with a spot in NASCAR's playoff field. There are five spots up for grabs with seven races left before the cutoff.

Kevin Harvick, Chris Buescher, Brad Keselowski, Daniel Suarez and Michael McDowell hold the final five spots on points but nothing is guaranteed without a win. Bubba Wallace, AJ Allmendinger, Ty Gibbs and Austin Cindric are the next four out.

Bell earned a playoff spot a year ago when he won at New Hampshire. He has mastered the track where he won Xfinity Series races in 2018, 2019 and 2021 and was second in the Cup race in 2021.

Bell is fighting for the overall points lead with William Byron, Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson and other late-season tested veterans.

"I'm sure that everyone that is in that bubble spot is doing the same thing, but here we are -- a year later -- and you are focusing on those three or four cars who are racing for the points," Bell said Saturday. "One mistake or bad stage and you can lose a lot of points very quickly. William has a little bit of a gap on us but all it takes is one bad race and he is back there with us. We have a lot of cars that we are trying to keep up with and outrun. I would imagine it's fun to stay on top of."