Vickers Captures Top Spot for Talladega Superspeedway’s GEICO 500

Brian Vickers holds the trophy in Gatorade Victory Lane after claiming a win in Talladega Superspeedway in the Coors Light Pole Award for Sunday's running of the GEICO 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.

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TALLADEGA, AL – Brian Vickers posted a speed of 196.129 mph Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway to win the Coors Light Pole Award for Sunday’s running of the GEICO 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.

 

“This feels awesome,” said Vickers, whose first career Sprint Cup victory occurred at Talladega Superspeedway in 2006. “I’ve always loved coming here. This has been a special place for me. I’m sure it’s going to be a wild race (Sunday).”

 

Six-time Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson will start on the outside of the front row after he reached 195.732 mph in NASCAR’s new rapid qualifying format, which sets the 43-car field through three rounds of five-minute qualifying sessions.

 

“I’m thrilled with the results,” Johnson said. “There was a lot of jockeying going on, trying to set up your run against the clock. It’s a bit of a cat-and-mouse game.”

 

AJ Allmendinger qualified third, followed by Ryan Blaney fourth and Brad Keselowski fifth. Among the drivers still eligible to win the Sprint Cup championship, Kasey Kahne will start eighth, Ryan Newman 11th, Matt Kenseth 13th, Carl Edwards 15th, Dale Earnhardt Jr. 28th, Denny Hamlin 38th, Kevin Harvick 39th, Joey Logano 40th, Kyle Busch 41st and Jeff Gordon 43rd.

 

There is always an element of tension at Talladega Superspeedway because of the high speeds and close-quarter racing that takes place at the track. But the pressure will be especially strong for Earnhardt, Johnson and Keselowski, who all need to win the race in order to advance to the next round in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. Kahne and Kenseth also need a good finish – though not necessarily a victory – in order to avoid elimination.

 

“Several of these race cars are going to have guys driving and thinking about the situation and understanding how dire and critical things are,” said Earnhardt, who has five career victories at Talladega Superspeedway. “That’s probably going to trigger guys to be making moves and doing things with more urgency than they typically would at one of these races.

 

“This (new Chase elimination format) really seems to be working as far as drawing a lot of interest. What we would love to see is an exciting race with an awesome finish. I want people talking about how awesome and great the racing was out there on Sunday, regardless of what happens.”

 

Terry Labonte set to make final career Sprint Cup start: Terry Labonte will make the 890th and final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start of his career in Sunday’s GEICO 500. Labonte has won 22 Sprint Cup races, including twice at Talladega Superspeedway (1989 and 1997). In 60 career Sprint Cup starts at Talladega, Labonte has posted 14 top-five finishes and 23 top 10s.

 

“I’ve always looked forward to coming to Talladega,” said Labonte, who will start in the ninth position Saturday. “There have always been some exciting races here. It’s a fun place.”

 

 

 

Tickets remain for the GEICO 500. To get a ticket to the most exciting race of the 2014 NASCAR campaign, call 1-877-Go2-DEGA, or visit www.talladegasupespeedway.com.

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