As I watched The King talking with his young driver after qualifying at the Charlotte Motor Speedway was completed Friday night, I began trying to remember what I was doing 46 years ago. The reason 1966 became significant? That was the last time the famous #43 sat on the pole at this race, and the King himself, had put it there. This night however, would belong to Aric Almirola.
Richard Petty Motorsports drivers Aric Almirola and Marcos Ambrose will own the front row Sunday night when they lead the rest of the field to the Green Flag for the Coca Cola 600 at the Concord North Carolina race track. This is the first pole of Almirola’s career, and was the result of a blistering lap of 27.988 sec(192.940 mph) late in the session as the track was cooling down.
Almirola gave credit for his performance to new Crew Chief Mike Ford, and said the U.S. Air Force Ford Fusion unloaded fast. The King asked him after qualifying if he had scared himself with that lap. It is only fitting that a car wearing a Military sponsor sit on the pole for a race that will honor our fallen Military Heroes.
Jimmie Johnson was the first to put some excitement into the crowd when he put his Lowes Chevrolet on the provisional pole with a 28.217 sec. lap at 191.374 mph. That time would withstand an assault from Kasey Kahne, Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jimmie would be bumped to the second row by Almirola’s teammate Marcos Ambrose.
Trevor Bayne was the top “Go Or Go Home” qualifier on the evening, nailing down a 13th place starting position. Not so lucky were J.J Yeley, Mike Bliss, David Reutimann and Scott Speed. Reutimann has to qualify on speed because of an agreement that gaurantee’s Danica Patrick a starting position based on owner points. As such, Danica will roll off 40th Sunday Night and Davind Reutimann loads up and goes home.
Race Fans in attendance, cheered as Kurt Busch lost control of his Phoenix Racing Chevrolet and tagged the outside wall, then slamming into the inside safe barrier. Busch’s car looked to be very loose, and you could see he was having trouble on the warm-up lap, trying to get it under control. He eventually lost it going onto turn 3, and crashed. Kurt Busch will make the field on points, and roll off 42nd.
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