Axsom Clinches First Little 500 Pole on CB Fabricating Pole Day

Jack Kessler Photo

Emerson Axsom’s perfect week continues as the Franklin, IN driver won the pole for the
76th Annual Little 500 Presented By UAW during CB Fabricating Pole Day. His four-lap
qualifying time of 44.575 was just 0.066 quicker than Tyler Roahrig’s time, who had
gone out to qualify just ahead of him.

Qualifying Results

Patience was the name of the game during qualifying, as several drivers waited until the
final minutes of the two-hour session before hitting the track. That goes for Axsom, who
was one of the final drivers to lay down a qualifying time.

“There was some oil from the last session of practice, so we were letting it get ran in a
little bit. Luckily, I’m not running Circle City with USAC this year, so we had all day to
wait around and bide our time and go when we were ready,” said Axsom. “We went in
there and had a lap to chase, luckily (Tyler) Roahrig was the car in front of me so we
had a time to chase.”

While the 19-year-old has driven for Nolen Racing in USAC Silver Crown and other
Sprint Car events, this is Axsom’s first Little 500 attempt with the team. While excited
for his first Little 500 pole, he does have one wish.

“I wish Gene (Nolen) was here. He was one of my biggest supporters. He’s the main
reason I’m able to drive this car, he was a big fan of mine. I know he’s watching but it
would be cool if he was here and was able to take some pictures with us on the front

While Axsom has topped every speed chart to date, the remaining drivers on the front
row have overcame struggles since making their first laps Wednesday afternoon. After
ending Practice Day eighth, two-time Little 500 champion Tyler Roahrig qualified second
for Saturday’s race

“I think a lot of it is some of the 100-lap races we haven’t done as well, and that’s
because the track changes quite a bit with all these cars. I kind of got lost in all that I
think and overadjusted. It turns out right now we’re with our normal stuff,” said Roahrig.
“That was mostly my fault and I didn’t have a good feel on the car, I wasn’t doing a good
job deciding what I needed with what the car was doing, and today went a little bit
better. Luckily I have a good team to help me when I’m not doing the best.”

Roahrig has been a mainstay on the Little 500 front row, now having accomplished the
feat for the sixth year in a row. He says the front row starting spot makes life easier in
the early stages of the race.

“It’s big, the start of the race can get chaotic going through lapped traffic and it’s better
to be at the front of the line than in the back. Since we’re hopefully going to be one of
the leaders and we don’t have to worry about getting lapped or anything at the start.
Our car was good in qualifying, it could’ve been better honestly but for the way our
week’s went, I’m pretty happy with a second. It’s a long race as we all know and a lot of
things can happen, so I think we have as good of a chance as anyone right now.”

While Roahrig ended Wednesday eighth in practice, Dakoda Armstrong found himself
all the way down in 16 th , and was even left scratching his head after ending Thursday
practice in tenth. After putting his No.1 on the outside front row during qualifying, the
2022 Little 500 runner-up was surprised.

“I’m in shock. We weren’t that great when we unloaded. The very first run the car felt
good, we just brought it back the way it was in the spring and this place took so much
rubber so quick we were undoing everything we had learned the last couple races,” said
Armstrong. “We put it back to where we raced this race before and it still wasn’t perfect,
but I think the track came to us. We’ve been so locked down trying to get the thing to
turn and it got so hot and greasy there it unlocked my car and I could drive it good. I
didn’t think a bunch of twos would be good enough for the front row but luckily we were
able to do it.”

The winner of the last two 500 Sprint Car Tour races held at Anderson, his confidence
quickly went away during Wednesday’s practice session. His outlook on the rest of the
weekend has changed after his first front row qualifying run and it now has him excited
come Saturday.

“I had a lot of confidence going into practice but we were terrible, we couldn’t get the car
to turn. When you come here, it’s a different animal. This track changes so much when
it’s so hot and there’s all these cars running. Starting on the front row, honestly I think
everyone’s in trouble. We’ve been really good in this race so as long as we can
somewhat do what we’ve done before, we have a good shot at winning this thing.”

Little 500 Qualifying Bump Day is on Friday, which will lock in positions 16-33 for
Saturday’s race. Practice will run from 11:30-1:15 before the final round of qualifying at
1:30. Grandstand admission is free.

The 76th Annual Little 500 presented by UAW will be held on Saturday, May 25th at
8:00pm. Tickets for the event are available now and are reserved seating only. All
tickets are $45 and can be purchased online HERE or by calling Anderson Speedway
Monday through Friday from 10am-4pm. Practice for teams begins on Wednesday, May
22nd from 12:00pm to 4:00pm. CB Fabricating Pole Day is scheduled for Thursday,
May 23rd from 11:30am – 3:30pm. Final practice and Bump Day is set for Friday, May
24th from 11:30am to 3:30pm. Grandstand admission is free for fans Wednesday through Friday and race day tickets are reserved seating only. The event, including
practice and qualifying, will also be streamed live on DIRTVision. For more information
on the Little 500, visit us at and on Facebook, Instagram, and

  • Story by Koty Geyer