Brian Scott turned in a 48.293-second lap in the final of three rounds of “knockout” qualifying at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway on Saturday to claim the pole for Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 NASCAAR Sprint Cup Series race at the track. He’ll be joined on the front row Sunday by Paul Menard. A.J. Allmendinger qualified third.
“To be able to get a pole position for the little guys — Joe Falk, team owner, and Circle Sport Racing — we are just really in a fortunate position to be part of the RCR/ECR alliance,” Scott said. “It’s the same horsepower and the same group that got the pole at Daytona in single-car qualifying. I think it speaks volumes for the shop and the effort that those guys are putting forward, both under the hood and across the body of these Chevy SSs.”
Saturday’s qualifying session was a first for the Sprint Cup Series. With NASCAR opting to go with the traditional Daytona 500 qualifying format for the season-opener at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway in February, Saturday qualifying at Talladega was the first “knockout” qualifying session for the series on a restrictor plate track.
Kyle Busch was the first round, posting a fast lap of 47.743 seconds, followed by Joey Logano and Jimmie Johnson. In the second round, though, Scott was fastest, with a 48.631-second lap, followed by Allmendinger and Carl Edwards. Edwards, in a Ford, was the only non-Chevrolet driver to advance to the final round of 12 to qualify for the top-12 spots on the starting grid.
Edwards wound up qualifying 10th, giving up the top-nine spots on the grid for Sunday’s race to Chevrolets — Casey Mears in fourth, Austin Dillon fifth, Ryan Newman sixth, Danica Patrick seventh, Kevin Harvick eighth and Kurt Busch ninth. Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart qualified 11th and 12th.
Martin Truex Jr., who was fastest in practice on Friday, qualified a dismal 38th with will start the race even farther back after his car failed-post qualifying inspection because it didn’t meet the minimum height requirement. As a result, his qualifying time was disallowed, and he’ll get into the race on a provisional.
“After posting the fastest practice speed yesterday, today’s result and infraction were disappointing to say the least,” Truex said. “That’s the bad news. “The good news is that we have a fast car for tomorrows’ race, and as we have said manyt imes, qualifying really doesn’t mean that much here.”
With 47 drivers making qualifying attempts, four failed to make the race — Dave Blaney, Joe Nemechek, J.J. Yeley and Eric McClure.