The new pavement at Michigan International Speedway produced record qualifying speeds on Saturday at NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams qualified for Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400.
Marcos Ambrose’s No. 9 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford was the fastest of the 40 cars that beat the old track record set by Ryan Newman, then driver of the No. 12 Penske Racing entry, back in 2005.
“I left a little bit out there,” Ambrose said. “I got greedy into turn three. The Stanley team at Richard Petty Motorsports did an outstanding job for us. This is a really great hot rod and I am proud to represent them. We get to start in the front and that is all you can ask for.”
Even so, Ambrose 203.241 mph average speed in qualifying was the third-fastest all-time NASCAR Cup qualifying speed. His lap time of 35.426 seconds was good enough for his first-career pole.
The No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Kevin Harvick will join Ambrose on the front row, after Harvick posted a 36.637-second qualifying lap.
Greg Biffle, Kasey Kahne and Newman qualified third through fifth.
A mechanical issue prevented Carl Edwards from completing a qualifying lap. He’ll start Sunday’s race from the 42nd spot.
“Man, this is frustrating,” Edwards said. “I think it’s a fuel issue. It’s running but feels like it’s running out of fuel.”
Even though David Stremme was one of the 40 drivers who posted qualifying laps better than the old track record, it wasn’t enough to get him into the race. Stremme and Stacy Compton were the two drivers making qualifying attempts who won’t race on Sunday.
The left side tires used in qualifying and practice on Thursday and Friday also won’t be in the race on Sunday. NASCAR announced Friday evening that, because of a tire blistering issue during Friday’s practice, a harder left side tire will be used in the race. Teams will have an opportunity to practice with the new tire in an extra session scheduled for Saturday evening.
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