Rain at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway cancelled NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying on Saturday for Sunday’s Aaron’s 499. As a result, the starting grid for the race was set based on speeds from the first practice on Friday. Carl Edwards was fastest in opening practice and, therefore, will start from the pole on Sunday
Edwards will be joined on the front row by Martin Truex Jr. A pair of Ford drivers, Marcos Ambrose and Joey Logano, will share the second row, starting third and fourth With Edwards also in a Ford, the manufacturer claimed three of the top-four starting spots. Fifth through 10th on the starting grid on Sunday will be Ryan Newman, Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne.
Sunday will be Hamlin’s first race since suffering a spinal injury at California Speedway in Fontana earlier this season. He’s only expected to drive the car until the first caution of the race. Brian Vickers, who has been filling in for Hamlin, will then climb into the No. 11 car to drive it to the finish. A roof hatch was installed on the car for Hamlin to climb out as Vickers climbs in through the door window, making for a fast-as-possible driver change.
Forty-four cars/drivers were still around on Saturday, hoping to qualify, so one driver was left without a spot on the starting grid for the race. Without the opportunity to get himself in on speed, Elliott Sadler was the odd man out without a starting spot for Sunday. There were originally 45 entries, but Mike Bliss withdrew.
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR