Bobby Gerhart took a new car to an old position.
Driving a car he had never raced before, Gerhart turned in a qualifying lap of 189.485 mph Thursday, giving him the pole position for Friday's running of the Food World 250 ARCA RE/MAX Series race at Talladega Superspeedway.
Gerhart also sat on the pole at Talladega in 2001, and he went on to win that race.
"I'm up for a repeat," Gerhart said with a laugh.
Joining Gerhart on the front row will be Formula One star Juan Montoya, who turned in a fast lap of 189.451 mph. Matt Hagans qualified third at 189.204, followed by ARCA points leader Frank Kimmel (188.252), A.J. Henriksen (188.097), Billy Venturini (187.875), Mike Wallace (187.783), Kelly Bires (187.544), Brett Rowe (187.298) and Justin South (187.013).
Gerhart tested at Talladega a few weeks before qualifying in order to get a feel of the track's newly repaved surface. He said the new car he used during the test performed so well that the team decided to go with it this week.
"We got a larger increase in speed than I was anticipating (during the test session), so we decided to change cars," Gerhart said. "We came here with a car we've actually never raced, and worked it out once we got here."
In addition to Gerhart's 2001 victory at Talladega, he also has won four races at the circuit's other restrictor-plate track, Daytona International Speedway, over the past eight seasons (including earlier this year). Gerhart said his recent good fortune at both tracks overshadows the troubles he had there for years.
"We've run well (at restrictor-plate tracks) for a long time, but people seem to forget that we also ran poorly for a long time," Gerhart said. "We just put our heads to the ground and worked real hard on this program and turned it around, and I hope we can keep it here to stay."
Gerhart trails Kimmel by 290 points in the ARCA standings. But even though Kimmel appears poised to capture his eighth ARCA championship, he said he is not taking anything for granted.
"We're close, but it's not over," Kimmel said. "Bobby has put on a good fight all year long. We can't rest on our laurels. We have to go out and be competitive all day and try to stay out of trouble. Hopefully we can stay close enough (to the lead) where we can sew this thing up."
Children age 11 and younger will be admitted free of charge with a ticketed adult in the general admission grandstands area for all of Friday's activities, including Alabama Beef Producers Qualifying for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and the Food World 250 ARCA RE/MAX Series race. Tickets are still available to the UAW-Ford 500 event weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, which includes the Food World 250 ARCA RE/MAX Series race on Friday, the inaugural John Deere 250 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race on Saturday and the UAW-Ford 500, race four in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup on Sunday. Tickets may be ordered by calling 1-877- Go2-DEGA, by logging onto www.racetickets.com, and are also available for purchase on-site at the Talladega Superspeedway Ticket Office located on Speedway Boulevard at the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.