Byron, who drives the No. 24 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports, won the pole for Sunday night’s Southern 500, driving a car featuring the livery of the fictional race car driver Trickle from the movie, “Days of Thunder.”
In the movie, Trickle – whose character was based loosely on the late racer Tim Richmond – won his first NASCAR Cup series race at Darlington.
Byron, 21, is also looking for his first career win and his average lap speed of 172.487 mph withstood numerous challenges before he secured his fourth pole of the 2019 season.
“It’s awesome to get this City Chevrolet No. 24 on the pole and just see what we can do for 500 miles,” said Byron, who has become just the third driver in NASCAR history to win the pole for the Daytona 500, Coke 600 and Southern 500 in the same season.
“It seems we put effort into some of these qualifying efforts knowing how important track position is and we can have that No. 1 pit stall all day long and all night long, it’s going to be a big deal.
“We’ll see what happens. It’s a really long race. I just got to run all 500 miles. We’re in a good spot in points so I think we can be aggressive.”
Asked how his car was in race trim in Friday’s practice, Byron said: “I thought we were solid. You’re always looking for more rear grip, more turn. It’s typical of short track or slick race track things. I thought our rear grip was better toward the end of practice.
“Off of (Turn) 4 wasn’t quite as good as we wanted it to be but we made some good adjustments overnight and leaned on our teammates, too, and I think we’re in a decent spot for tomorrow. It’s all about patience and trying to get to the last 100 laps with a good shot at it and a clean right-side, too.”
Brad Keselowski ended up second (172.088 mph) and Kyle Larson was third (171.842 mph). Kurt Busch and Daniel Suarez rounded out the top-five.
Completing the top-10 starters are Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin and Ryan Blaney.
Kyle Busch never got up to full speed during his qualifying run and said over his team radio that he may be “blowing up.” “I don’t know if it’s the motor or the transmission,” Busch said.
After returning to the garage, Busch’s Joe Gibbs Racing team was able to re-fire his engine without a problem but continued to look for the cause of the problem.
Busch ended up posting the 33rd-fastest speed.
Matt DiBenedetto’s No. 95 Toyota failed pre-qualifying inspection twice on Saturday, which resulted in the ejection of the team’s car chief for the remainder of the weekend and a loss of 15 minutes of practice next weekend at IndiaNapolis Motor Speedway.