Date: May 23, 2013
Event: Coca-Cola 600 (Round 12 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway (1.5-mile oval)
Pole Winner: Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (27.604 seconds at 195.624 mph – new track record)
SHR Lineup: Ryan Newman (10th, 27.887 seconds at 193.639 mph)
Danica Patrick (24th, 28.298 seconds at 190.826 mph)
Tony Stewart (25th, 28.303 seconds at 190.792 mph)
Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS, led the three-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent in time trials Thursday at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway by qualifying 10th for the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday. Newman turned a lap of 27.887 seconds at 193.639 mph around the 1.5-mile oval.
“That was a good pick-up from where we practiced,” said Newman, who has four top-five and eight top-10s in 24 Sprint Cup starts at Charlotte. “We were fortunate to get a later draw, because the track gained a ton of grip. We made gains on the Quicken Loans Chevrolet all day. Matt Borland (crew chief) and the guys made a bunch of changes throughout that first practice session, but we focused solely on qualifying trim. We’ll have two practice sessions on Saturday to dial it in for the race Sunday night.”
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 24th after clocking in at 28.298 seconds at 190.826 mph.
“I feel like that was probably the most comfortable and consistent that the GoDaddy Chevrolet had felt in qualifying all year, really,” said Patrick, who will make her 22nd career Sprint Cup start on Sunday and her second at Charlotte. “I feel like we made some gains on the balance of the car through practice and, obviously, being here last weekend helped. We put in a better time than we did last weekend, so all things are going in the right direction.”
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for SHR, will start 25th after posting a lap of 28.303 seconds at 190.792 mph.
“We’re still working on it,” said Stewart, who won at Charlotte in October 2003. “We have a full day of practice Saturday and it’s a long race on Sunday. We’re not where we want to be with our Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, but we have the time and the work ethic to get it where it needs to be.”
Denny Hamlin captured his 14th career Sprint Cup pole, his second of the season and his first at Charlotte by turning a record lap of 27.604 seconds at 195.624, breaking the previous Sprint Cup track qualifying record of 27.877 seconds at 193.708 mph set by Greg Biffle on Oct. 11, 2012.
Kurt Busch will start on the outside of row one after clocking in at 27.661 seconds at 195.221 mph. Matt Kenseth was third (27.679 seconds at 195.094 mph), while Mark Martin (27.750 seconds at 194.595 mph) and Clint Bowyer (27.763 seconds at 194.503 mph) rounded out the top-five.
Forty-four drivers attempted to qualify for the Coca-Cola 600. The lone driver failing to make the 43-car field was Mike Bliss.
Toyota took the top spot among manufacturers via Hamlin’s pole run. Chevrolet was next-best at the hands of Busch. Ford was the third-fastest make thanks to seventh-quick Biffle (27.801 seconds at 194.238 mph).
The Coca-Cola 600 gets underway at 6 p.m. EDT Sunday with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with a pre-race show at 5:30 p.m.