Cole Custer wins the pole; Dale Jr. qualified 23rd

HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Cole Custer won the pole for Saturday’s Xfinity Series playoff race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Saturday’s race is the middle event of the Round of 8. No driver has yet secured a spot in next month’s Xfinity Championship race.

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Custer, a playoff driver, secured the pole with a lap speed of 165.604 mph. Joining him on the front row is John Hunter Nemechek, also a playoff driver. Nemechek qualified at 164.704 mph.

“I think we’re bringing our best race cars to the track and it’s exciting,” Custer said.

The top five starters are all playoff drivers. Justin Allgaier (164.194 mph) starts third. Austin Hill (163.934) qualified fourth. Rookie Sammy Smith (163.537) qualified fifth.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., making his second series start this season, qualified 23rd.

“A lot of mistakes,” Earnhardt told NBC Sports’ Kim Coon after his qualifying round. “The car is pretty good. Every lap I make a series of mistakes that I will make up for in the race or try to make up for in the race.”

Ryan Newman also qualified for Saturday’s race. He will start on the 24th.

Matt Mills, JJ Yeley and Natalie Decker failed to qualify.

The Xfinity Series Round of 16 playoff race takes place Saturday at 3:00 p.m. ET on USA Network. Coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. ET in the US.

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