“Who would have thought that? Wow.”
Going into qualifying, Richard Childress Racing and their Earnhardt-Childress Racing Engine affiliates had a plan to draft together and catch a ‘toe’ at the optimal time to therefore lay down the quickest speed of the session. The plan worked perfectly as ECR cars swept the top six spots in qualifying.
Catching the run at the right time through the apron in the third round of qualifying, 26-year-old Brian Scott would come across the line with a lap of 48.293 seconds to score his first career Coors Light Pole Award in his fifth Sprint Cup Series start. Scott’s previous best qualifying attempt was a 12th in the season opening Daytona 500.
“It was a team effort,” Scott commented. “Big thanks to everyone. It’s always a team effort to get these superspeedway poles. We had a team plan and Ryan Newman was elected the point player. I know how that feels as I was the point man yesterday and you don’t feel you have a pole shot but you feel special being a team player.
“We were able to get the right suck there at the last second to get the pole and I couldn’t be more happier for everybody.”
While the format may have been different with three rounds of qualifying and drafting, this is a continuing trend on the restrictor plate tracks as ECR was strong at Daytona 500 with Austin Dillon and Martin Truex Jr. on the front row.
This time around, it’ll be Paul Menard on the front row with Scott as Menard qualified second for his third top-10 start of the season. A.J. Allmendinger qualified third, followed by Casey Mears and Austin Dillon. Allmendinger and Dillon had a mix-up earlier this season at Darlington and with their qualifying effort, found themselves in the media center together. The ill-feelings look to be gone as both joked about their insults to each other.
Ryan Newman will start sixth, followed by Danica Patrick, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards.
Jeff Gordon will start 11th, followed by Tony Stewart, Brad Keselowski, Michael McDowell, Aric Almirola, Kasey Kahne, Joey Logano, Michael Annett, Brian Vickers, Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Reed Sorenson and Trevor Bayne.
Notably missing from the top 24 were Clint Bowyer (29th), Kyle Larson (30th), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (31st), Jamie McMurray (33rd) and Denny Hamlin (35th).
“Wasn’t that much fun. That was pretty boring,” Earnhardt Jr. commented. “I’m pretty sure we can think of something as that. I’d like to do some heat races or something. That’d be a little funner than this.”
“Well, for us, we got out there in a group and I guess the officials made us come down pit road for something and we lost our group and plan,” Larson said. “Just couldn’t tag on to the right group and get a toe. Qualifying really doesn’t matter here and we have a quick Target Chevy so we’ll be fine tomorrow.”
The session didn’t go without incident, either, as contact between Kyle Busch and Michael Waltrip resulted in minor damage to both Toyotas.
Eric McClure, Dave Blaney, .J. J Yeley and Joe Nemechek were the four drivers that did not qualify.
Following qualifying, two cars failed post-inspection as Truex’s No. 78 did not meet height requirements while Kahne’s No. 5 was too light. Both times disallowed, will start at rear