William Byron captures pole and sets record for Coca-Cola 600

William Bryon earned the Busch Pole Award Thursday evening at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600, becoming the youngest pole winner in the event’s history.

The 21-year-old Charlotte native earned the pole in his Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet with a 183.424 mph lap. It was his second Cup Series pole and the second this season after starting up front for the season-opening Daytona 500.

“This is a dream come true,” Byron said after qualifying. “Obviously I grew up in Charlotte and came to this race every year. So, it’s a dream come true to qualify on the pole with Hendrick Motorsports just across the street and all the hard work and everybody at Chevrolet giving us fast race cars. This is pretty cool. I can’t think of a better way to start the weekend.

“Winning the pole is a good first step for this weekend. After all those nights of running the Summer Shootout and Winter Heat around here (as a child), I spent a lot of time wondering what it would be like to run the big track. It’s really cool (to win the pole on it). I’ve run one (Coca-Cola 600) here and it didn’t go so great, so the one thought I’ve had in my head this week was to make it better this year, because honestly it was miserable last year. I’ve taken that and used it as added motivation for this year. I don’t really like having the ‘youngest’ term attached to me. I’ve always been the young guy. I really just look at myself as a race car driver.”

Aric Almirola will start in second after a lap of 183.069 mph in his No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford.

“I got everything I could out of it,” he said. ” If somebody else gets in there maybe they might be able to do something different, but I felt like I got everything I could out of it. Surprisingly, it was a handful to drive so I’m proud of that lap.”

The defending race winner, Kyle Busch, qualified third in his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota at 182.933 mph. Austin Dillon will start fourth with Kevin Harvick in fifth.

Daniel Suarez, Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Daniel Hemric round out the top 10 starting positions.

Jimmie Johnson, with four Coca-Cola 600 wins (2003, 2004, 2005, 2014), will start in 15th.

Tune into the 60th running of the Coca-Cola 600 Sunday at 6 p.m. ET on FOX with radio coverage on PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Follow @angiecampbell_ for the latest NASCAR news and feature stories.

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