Date: May 3, 2014
Event: Aaron’s 499 Qualifying (Round 10 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway (2.66-mile oval)
Pole Winner: Brian Scott of Circle Sport Racing (48.293 seconds at 198.290 mph)
SHR Lineup: Danica Patrick (7th, 49.109 seconds at 194.995 mph)
Kevin Harvick (8th, 49.261 seconds at 194.393 mph)
Kurt Busch (9th, 49.458 seconds at 193.619 mph)
Tony Stewart (12th, 50.678 seconds at 188.958 mph)
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS, led the four-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent Saturday at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway by setting the seventh-fastest lap in qualifying for Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Patrick turned a lap of 49.109 seconds at 194.995mph on the 2.66-mile oval.
“It was an experience,” said Patrick of knockout qualifying at a restrictor-plate track, where drivers had to use the draft to set a fast time. “We weren’t in a bad spot right there at the end, but we needed one more lap.”
Qualifying consisted of three rounds. The first was 25 minutes, with every driver on the track vying to set the fastest lap. The 24 fastest drivers from the first round advanced to the second, 10-minute round. The fastest 12 drivers from that session advanced to the final, five-minute round of qualifying where they battled for the pole. Positions 1-12 were set by speeds in the final round. Positions 13-24 were set by speeds posted in the second round. The remaining 43-car field was set by speeds posted by those who did not advance past the first round.
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified eighth with a time of49.261 seconds at 194.393 mph.
“It was way more fun than a regular qualifying session, that’s for sure,” said Harvick, who won at Talladega in April 2010. “For us and our Jimmy John’s Chevrolet, it just didn’t time out exactly right at the end. I thought we were in the right spot with a little bigger group ahead of us.”
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet for SHR, qualified ninth with a time of 49.458 seconds at 193.619 mph.
“It was like a poker game. You have to have good hands to get through to compete for the big prize, but then once you get to the final table, you can win with nothing in your hand,” said Busch, who has six top-five finishes in 26 Sprint Cup starts at Talladega. “I need to go watch how that final session shook out and how that group got organized at the end. It was definitely a rush. I’m glad we got all four of our SHR cars in the final round. That was our job and we got that accomplished. We had a shot at it with our Haas Automation Chevy and that’s all you can ask for. I hope we have a shot again tomorrow.”
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 12th with a time of 50.678 seconds at 188.958 mph.
“The upside is that our Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevy is good,” said Stewart, who won at Talladega in October 2008. “The downside is that when it comes to restrictor-plate racing, you’re not always in control of your own destiny, and we saw that today in qualifying.”
Brian Scott led the final round of knockout qualifying by taking the pole with a lap of 48.293 seconds at 198.290 mph. It was his first career Sprint Cup pole.
Paul Menard will start on the outside of row one after clocking in at 48.391 seconds at 197.888 mph.
The 10 other drivers who made it to the final round of qualifying were A.J. Allmendinger, Casey Mears, Austin Dillon, Ryan Newman, Patrick, Harvick, Busch, Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon and Stewart. All are listed in the order they’ll start Sunday’s race.
Forty-seven drivers attempted to qualify for the 43-car field. Dave Blaney, Joe Nemechek, Eric McClure and J.J. Yeley did not make the field.