For the first time in 2022, the Cup Series gets ready for some short-track racing. After a heavy dose of superspeedways, 1.5-mile ovals, and the twists and turns of the Circuit of the Americas road course, teams and drivers are now gearing up for a steady diet of short ovals over the next few weeks. It all begins this weekend at Richmond Raceway with the Toyota Owners 400 on the 3/4-mile oval.

A familiar face will lead the field to the green flag tomorrow. Ryan Blaney captured his third pole of the season, which is the ninth of his career and first at Richmond Raceway. The driver of the No. 12 Ford Mustang earned the top spot with a blistering 22.541-second lap time. The Team Penske driver will now have started second or better in four consecutive races.

“This means a lot, you know,” Blaney said. “Honestly, I didn’t think I got a very good lap. It was kind of an ugly lap on my end but I did have speed. Track position means a lot here. With my past history here, I can use all the track position I can get. It’s a great start to the weekend. We just need to keep it up and keep the tires under this thing and we’ll see what tomorrow holds.”

"I struggled here really bad for years, and I still don’t feel like I’m great here at all," Blaney admitted. "We’ve worked really hard on figuring out what to do better here. I feel like everyone’s done a really good job to bring a fast car. Qualifying on the pole here is one thing; Racing here is a completely other thing. It’s great we got the pole but it’s now time to switch to race mode."

Starting alongside Blaney on the front row is Hendrick Motorsports driver William Byron. It is the Chevrolet driver's best qualifying effort of the season, trailing Blaney by just 0.037 seconds. The three manufacturers were pretty even with Toyota's Kyle Busch lined up on the inside of Row 2 for tomorrow's race. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver is making his 19th top-ten start at Richmond, and the fourth this season. Chase Briscoe will start on Kyle's outside tomorrow.

Five different teams are represented inside the top five, with Erik Jones starting on the inside of Row 3. Three-time Richmond winner Martin Truex Jr will start from the 6th position in his No. 19 Toyota. Rounding out the top ten starters are Kevin Harvick, Ross Chastain, Christopher Bell, and Aric Almirola.

Joey Logano just missed out on advancing and will start 11th tomorrow. Denny Hamlin has had tremendous success at Richmond but the three-time winner missed out during qualifying and starts from the 13th position. Just behind him in 15th is Chase Elliott, who was one of three Hendrick drivers that struggled today. His teammates Kyle Larson and Alex Bowman will start 21st and 28th tomorrow.

While the Gibbs drivers performed well today, the other two Toyota cars did not. Kurt Busch (27th) and Bubba Wallace (29th) will have some work to do tomorrow to get their 23XI Racing machines to the front of the field.

This is a track that Joe Gibbs Racing has dominated in recent years, winning 8 of the last 12 Richmond races. The team is still winless this season, with their last win coming in September of last year. Getting back to victory lane and securing the first victory for Toyota tomorrow in the Toyota Owners 400 would be the perfect place to turn their season around.

Kyle Busch led the lone 20-minute practice session prior to qualifying, with Chris Buescher just behind him. Blaney, Bell, and Briscoe rounded out the top five. Nine of the top ten in practice advanced to the final round of qualifying. Tire wear was a concern during qualifications and will certainly be a factor in tomorrow's race.

Seven teams have been impacted by inspection failures from Friday night. The following cars failed inspection twice, which means a crew member ejection, and losing their pit selection: No. 3 Dillon (Ryan Chism), No. 16 Allmendinger (Andy Suess), No. 17 Buescher (Josh Sisco), No. 23 Wallace (Zach Marquardt), and No. 47 Stenhouse Jr (Joe Gwilt).

The cars of No. 31 Haley (Jaron Antley) and No. 44 Biffle (Nick Ollila) failed inspection three times. Those teams were not allowed to qualify and will have to serve a pass-through penalty after taking the green flag tomorrow.

Coverage for Sunday's Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond begins at 3:30 PM ET on FOX.