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Cole Rouse rises to Winchester 400 pole

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A strong Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) duo and a championship Chase contender highlighted ARCA/CRA Super Series qualifying as the field was set for the season-ending Winchester 400.

Cole Rouse laid down a 15.360-second circuit around Winchester Speedway to claim the pole for the famed 400-lap race.

“We had a really fast car thanks to all of those guys at KBM, Toyota Racing and JBL Audio,” Rouse said. “It’ll be a good race tomorrow. With it being 400 laps, we just need to keep it clean until the end and hopefully pull it off.”

With the pole confirmed, Rouse’s game plan for Sunday is simple – dominate and avoid the typical Winchester attrition.

“I think the track position will help a lot – just being out of the wrecks,” Rouse. “Hopefully we can lead most of the laps, stay out of trouble and be there at the end.”

John VanDoorn – one of the four championship contenders entering the weekend – slotted in second with a time of 15.407 seconds. Dalton Armstrong was next among the quartet in fourth, with Wes Griffith Jr. and Logan Runyon following in 19th and 24th, respectively.

Under the new ‘Chase’ format utilized in all four of the Champion Racing Association’s racing series, the best finisher of the four championship contenders in the season finale will be declared this season’s champion.

Despite his strong lap, VanDoorn felt little was gained from qualifying, save for a bit of momentum.

“It definitely gives you a boost of confidence going into the race, not that qualifying means anything for this race,” VanDoorn said. “I mean, it’s 400 laps. It’s a rolling, high-speed enduro. You’ve gotta dodge the wrecks and hope your car doesn’t fall apart so you can be there at the end.”

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regular Noah Gragson (15.544) qualified third for his first Super Late Model race since the spring’s Battle at Bristol.

“I think I had pole speed, but it’s tough,” Gragson said. “I haven’t been in one of these late models since back at Bristol. That’s the last time I ran one of these things, and I forgot how damn fast they were. These things haul ass anywhere they go.”

Armstrong (15.461) and defending winner Travis Braden (15.468) rounded out the top five, with Rick Turner (15.470), Terry Fisher (15.476), Raphael Lessard (15.482), Brandon Oakley (15.490) and Donnie Wilson (15.494) completing the top 10. Turner is expected to make his final planned SLM start on Sunday.

A total of 29 cars set a time during qualifications. Other notables included K&N Pro Series East champion Harrison Burton (11th), Redbud 400 winner Stephen Wallace (12th), Stephen Nasse (14th), Hope Hornish (15th) and Mason Mingus (22nd).

The green flag will fly for the Winchester 400 on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.

Winchester 400 Starting Lineup

  1. Cole Rouse
  2. John VanDoorn (C)
  3. Noah Gragson
  4. Dalton Armstrong (C)
  5. Travis Braden
  6. Rick Turner
  7. Terry Fisher
  8. Raphael Lessard
  9. Brandon Oakley
  10. Donnie Wilson
  11. Harrison Burton
  12. Stephen Wallace
  13. Ben Welch
  14. Stephen Nasse
  15. Hope Hornish
  16. Jack Dossey
  17. Chandler Smith
  18. Hunter Jack
  19. Wes Griffith Jr. (C)
  20. Kyle Crump
  21. Dakota Stroup
  22. Mason Mingus
  23. Jon Beach
  24. Logan Runyon (C)
  25. Jack Smith
  26. Brandon Varney
  27. Billy VanMeter
  28. Jordan Miller
  29. Rich Segvich

(C) – Championship Contender

About Aaron Bearden

Aaron Bearden is a contributing writer for Short Track Scene. Having grown up watching NASCAR and IndyCar, Bearden began following short track racing during his high school years before starting a blog about racing in college. A writer for Frontstretch and Motorsports Tribune, Bearden also covers NASCAR, IndyCar and other forms of open wheel racing.

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