Ricky Stenhouse Jr. claims first Sprint Cup pole at Atlanta

With a lap around Atlanta Motor Speedway in 29.227 seconds, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. claimed his first-career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole on Friday during qualifying for Sunday’s Advocare 500.

“Great start to the weekend,” Stenhouse said. “Now we’ve just got to finish it off.”

Taking advice from car owner Jack Roush to run the bottom line, Stenhouse knocked teammate Carl Edwards from the provisional pole.

“Jack comes up to the car and tells me to do something, now I’ve got to do it,” Edwards said.

Edwards held on to second, so he’ll still start on the front row come Sunday, giving Roush Fenway Racing a sweep of the front row.

Juan Montoya qualified third, and Denny Hamlin, sprained thumb and all, was fourth in qualified. Jeff Gordon rounded out the top-five.

Kyle Busch went out early in the qualifying session and claimed the provisional pole. But he knew it wouldn’t last, since he went out so early.

“I hate we got such a bad draw, but it is what it is,” Busch said.

Busch was eventually knocked from the provisional top spot by Hamlin. In the end, Busch did wind up in the top-10, qualifying ninth.

At one time during the session, Joe Gibbs Racing held all three of the top-three provisional starting spots, with Hamlin first, Matt Kenseth second and Busch third. In the end, Kenseth wound up sixth.

Despite a broken wrist, Martin Truex Jr. qualified seventh. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was eighth, Busch ninth and series points leader Jimmie Johnson wound up 10th.

“There’s nothing like taking a line in qualifying you didn’t run in practice,” Johnson said.

– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR

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