Chip Ganassi's "other" driver is on the pole for Friday's running of the ARCA RE/MAX Series 250 at Talladega Superspeedway.
Much of the attention during Thursday's qualifying session was on Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti, who is making his stock-car racing debut Friday in a car owned by Ganassi.
But it was Ganassi driver Bryan Clauson who turned in the fastest qualifying lap around Talladega's 2.66-mile tri-oval Thursday, posting a top speed of 184.840 mph. It is the first ARCA pole for the 18-year-old Clauson, who has made only five starts in the series.
"Dario is a really cool guy," Clauson said. "I got to work with him a little bit today. To think, having five ARCA RE/MAX Series starts under my belt, that I would be coming in as the veteran to teach somebody, especially somebody of his caliber. It was pretty comical almost.
"I think they have a really good car as well. We're planning on doing some drafting practice tomorrow. Hopefully we can hook up and race together all day."
Michael Annett will join Clauson on the front row after his qualifying speed of 184.633 mph. Colin Braun qualified third at 184.516, followed by Phillip McGilton fourth (184.143) and Bobby Santos fifth (183.966).
Franchitti qualified sixth with a fast lap of 183.740. He was followed closely by fellow open-wheel veteran Scott Speed, a former Formula One racer whose lap of 183.480 placed him seventh in the field.
Max Dumarey (183.241) qualified eighth, followed by ARCA points leader Frank Kimmel ninth (183.119) and Billy Venturini 10th (183.080). Michael McDowell, who is second in the points standings behind Kimmel, qualified 11th (182.769).
Clauson, who won the ARCA race at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill. on Aug. 31, attributed his pole-winning qualifying effort to the team's test session at Talladega Superspeedway last month.
"When we came here and tested, we worked on qualifying runs," Clauson said. "We weren't sure what we had going into it today. We felt like we had a really good car. We just got out there and laid down a good lap.
"I would like to take a lot of the credit for it, but here at Talladega, it's a lot more about the time and effort the crew has put in. They did a good job bringing me a good car. I feel like we have a good car for the race."
The ARCA RE/MAX Series 250 is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. CDT Friday. It is part of 1,000 miles of racing taking place at Talladega Superspeedway this weekend, along with the Mountain Dew 250 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race on Saturday and the UAW-Ford 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race on Sunday.
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 the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Qualifying and the ARCA RE/MAX Series 250 race. Tickets are still available to the UAW-Ford 500 event weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, which includes the ARCA RE/MAX Series 250 race on Friday, the Mountain Dew 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.