Ambrose, the two-time defending winner of Sunday’s Cheez-It 355 at The Glen may not be guaranteed a win this weekend, but he got his campaign started off on the right foot with a 68.777-second lap during Saturday’s qualifying session to set a new track qualifying record and claim the pole starting spot for Sunday’s race.
“It’s never as easy as it looks,” Ambrose said of his qualifying run. “I got really loose in the esses and got really close to the wall.”
Ambrose will be joined on the front row by Clint Bowyer. Bowyer’s Michael Waltrip Racing teammate, Martin Truex Jr., qualified third.
“Fear and being scared out there is a big part of it, not wanting to mess up,” Bowyer said of how to post a fast qualifying time. “These road courses are something I’m beginning to look forward to.”
For road course qualifying, cars/drivers hit the track for qualifying in eight separate groups, with the cars that were slowest in practice on Friday going out first and the fastest last. Each group was given sufficient time to make about three laps. With faster cars going out later, the provisional pole spart changed hands through the first four groups. But after Jamie McMurray went out with the fourth group and made a single lap, he held on to the top spot through the next couple of groups.
“Our McDonald’s Chevy just didn’t have the grip,” McMurray gave as the reason he only made one lap. “It would’ve been a waste of time staying out there knowing it was going to get slower.”
Bowyer, though, went out in the seventh group and knocked McMurray from atop the scoring pylon. By the end of qualifying, McMurray was shuffled to sixth. qualifying fourth and fifth were A.J. Allmendinger and Kyle Busch.
Paul Menard, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth rounded out the top-10. The entire top-10 surpassed the old track qualifying record.
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR