Date: June 28, 2013

Event: Kentucky 400 (Round 17 of 36)

Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

Location: Kentucky Speedway in Sparta (1.5-mile oval)

Pole Winner: Dale Earnhardt Jr. of Hendrick Motorsports (29.406 seconds at 183.636 mph – new track record) 

SHR Lineup: Ryan Newman (7th, 29.629 seconds at 182.254 mph), Tony Stewart (25th, 30.006 seconds at 179.964 mph), Danica Patrick (29th, 30.177 seconds at 178.944 mph)

Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS, led the three-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent in time trials Friday at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta by qualifying seventh for the Kentucky 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Saturday night. Newman turned a lap of 29.629 seconds at 182.254 mph around the 1.5-mile oval.

“I told my guys that catching a cloud wasn’t going to be good enough,” said Newman, who finished fourth in the inaugural Sprint Cup race at Kentucky in 2011. “I was impressed with the effort the guys made with the Quicken Loans Chevrolet. We picked up on it. Definitely feel that a little bit of cloud cover didn’t hurt us. We made some improvements and we beat a lot of cars that beat us in practice. We’ll keep working on it.”

Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet SS, will start 25th after posting a lap of 30.006 seconds at 179.964 mph.

“I got into (turns) one and two really well, but was tight off two,” said Stewart, whose best finish in two Sprint Cup starts at Kentucky is 12th. “I tried to make it up in (turns) three and four and it just didn’t work. Thankfully, it was only two laps. The Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevy is much better in race trim, and tomorrow night we’re not qualifying, we’re racing.”

Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 29th after clocking in at 30.177 seconds at 178.944 mph.

“We picked up four tenths (from practice), so that was a good pick up,” said Patrick, who despite being a Sprint Cup rookie at Kentucky has seven IZOD IndyCar Series starts at the track with four top-10 finishes. “The GoDaddy Chevy is good and I think we’ve got a good setup for Saturday night. The GoDaddy team worked hard today. I’m proud of them.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. captured his 12th career Sprint Cup pole, his first of the season and his first at Kentucky by turning a lap of 29.406 seconds at 183.636 mph, breaking the previous Sprint Cup track qualifying record of 29.700 seconds at 181.818 mph set by his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson on June 29, 2012.

Carl Edwards will start on the outside of row one after clocking in at 29.459 seconds at 183.306 mph. Johnson was third (29.485 seconds at 183.144 mph), while Kyle Busch (29.574 seconds at 182.593 mph) and Marcos Ambrose (29.575 seconds at 182.587 mph) rounded out the top-five. 

Forty-three drivers attempted to qualify for the Kentucky 400. All made the race since there are 43 starting positions in a Sprint Cup field.

Chevrolet took the top spot among manufacturers via Earnhardt’s pole run. Ford was next-best at the hands of Edwards. Toyota was the third-fastest make thanks to Busch. 

The Kentucky 400 gets underway at 7:30 p.m. EDT Saturday with live coverage provided by TNT beginning with a pre-race show at 6:30 p.m.