Qualifying Speeds Top 200 mph as Scott Takes Pole for Sunday’s Running of Aaron’s 499
TALLADEGA, AL – A new qualifying format brought back some old speeds at Talladega Superspeedway in advance of Sunday’s running of the Aaron’s 499 Sprint Cup Series race.
Saturday was the first time that the group form of qualifying for Sprint Cup races has been used at Talladega Superspeedway, replacing the old single-car style. This resulted in aerodynamically friendly pack qualifying that produced speeds well into the upper 190s, with two drivers – Kyle Busch and Joey Logano – topping the 200-mph mark. It is the first time since 1987 that there have been qualifying laps faster than 200 mph at Talladega.
The quickest speeds occurred during the first of three “knockout” qualifying sessions, when the entire field of cars was able to be on the track at once. Of the 47 drivers who attempted to qualify for the race, 20 of them posted a fast lap of more than 198 mph during the opening session and 37 topped 197 mph. Speeds dipped slightly during the second and third sessions, as the qualifying field was reduced to 24 cars and then 12 cars for the final run.
Sprint Cup Series rookie Brian Scott won the Coors Light Pole Award with a final-session speed of 198.290, which he hit on the last lap. Scott, who drives the No. 33 car for Circle Sport Racing, led a parade of cars powered by Earnhardt-Childress Racing Engines that took the top six starting spots for Sunday’s race. Paul Menard qualified second, followed by AJ Allmendinger in third, Casey Mears fourth, Austin Dillon fifth and Ryan Newman sixth.
“I don’t think the way the (ECR) alliance dreamt it up was for the 33 team to be on the pole,” Scott said. “But when you have a team effort and everybody is working together, really anybody that’s a part of that group has an opportunity, and it worked out just right for us.
“This is pretty special, to be able to get a pole position for the little guy, (team owner) Joe Falk and Circle Sport Racing. It’s pretty surreal. Normally as a rookie you don’t come into the Sprint Cup Series and expect to get on the pole, but it happened.”
The big winner Saturday was the new “knockout” group qualifying format, which the drivers praised for the excitement it produced.
Menard: “This is definitely a great track for this new qualifying format. I thought it added a lot of excitement.”
Kevin Harvick (qualified eighth): “It was way more fun than our normal qualifying session for sure.”
Jeff Gordon (11th): I knew it was going to be intense and pretty wild. It certainly lived up to that.”
Brad Keselowski (13th): “It wasn’t too crazy, but it was crazy enough to be fun and fun to watch.”
Brian Vickers (18th): “It’s by far better qualifying that we’ve ever seen at superspeedways in the history of the sport.”
Jimmie Johnson (20th): “It was definitely exciting, that’s for sure.”
The excitement will only increase Sunday during the 45th annual Aaron’s 499. Driver introductions are scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m., with the green flag set to fly at approximately 12:20 p.m.
Great tickets are still available. At Talladega Superspeedway fans can sit in the most comfortable seats in NASCAR, watch the race on huge Sprint Vision screens and park and camp for free on the nearly 3,000-acre facility. For more information log onto www.talladegasuperspeedway.com.
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