Richmond Pole to Reutimann
By: Jeff Wackerlin - @JWackerlin Twitter and Instagram | MRN.com on September 9, 2011 | 6:42 P.M. EST
Reutimann posted a lap of 127.383 mph for his fourth career pole and first since Dover in May 2009. (Photo: Getty Images)
David Reutimann scored his first pole of the season on Friday in qualifying for the Wonderful Pistachios 400 at Richmond International Raceway.
Reutimann, who was seventh fastest in the first practice session, posted a lap of 127.383 mph for his fourth career pole and first since Dover in May 2009.
"This is our first pole here and the first pole in a while for the Aaron’s Dream Machine," Reutimann said. "We’ve went from getting a couple a year to it being a little while. It’s been a dry spell for us so it feels good."
Tomorrow night's race will mark Reutimann's 10th at RIR. His only top 10 came in this event in 2008 when he led 104 laps en route to a ninth-place finish.
"This definitely starts the weekend off right anyway and gives us obviously good starting position and great pit selection," Reutimann said. "Hopefully, we’ll have the Aaron’s Dream Machine up front and keep it up front and that’s the name of the game."
Jamie McMurray posted his first top-five start at Richmond with the second-fastest lap at 127.334 mph.
"We actually put in what we ran in the spring for the second practice and the car was really good," McMurray said. "We all wanted to do that same setup for qualifying. I feel really good about it. We had just a really good day. Bono (Kevin Manion, crew chief) said on the radio after our qualifying lap it was just one of those days everything just went the way it should."
Continuing where they left off at Atlanta, Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson were 1-2, respectively, in the first practice session and went out last in qualifying. Johnson was the highest qualifying of the two in third, but said he left some on the table.
“It was a great effort," Johnson said. "Being third is great. But that first lap; there was more in the car. I just didn’t know what effort level to commit to. The first lap, I knew I was a little under it. And the second lap, I think I exceeded it going into Turn 3. I got it right down in (Turns) 1 and 2; but I was a little too fast into (Turn) 3 and missed my mark."
Atlanta winner Gordon qualified 17th after getting loose on his qualifying lap.
"It’s a big weekend for us and still the momentum is with this race team and even though we didn’t qualify too good right there, we had a great race car in practice,” Gordon said.
Mark Martin, Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton, Kevin Harvick, AJ Allmendinger and Juan Pablo Montoya rounded out the top-10 qualifiers.
Brad Keselowski, who is trying for the 10th spot in the points so he can become eligible for bonus points, qualified 19th after the team continues to struggle on getting the car to turn around the .75-mile track.
“Need to be a little better than that," said Keselowski, who is 23 points out of 10th. "We’ve been a little off this whole weekend here just getting our cars where they need to be so we’ll just have to keep working on it.”
A move into the top 10 in the standings by Keselowski would open the door for any driver through 23rd in points a potential wild card spot by a win or by their current win status.
Tony Stewart currently holds the 10th spot in the standings and will start 22nd.
“In the spring race here we qualified in the back and got a lap down early and never could recover from it," said Stewart, who can clinch if he finishes 18th or better with no laps led. "But I think we’ve got a car that runs well. It seems like after about 10 laps our car is as good as anybody else’s and maybe a tick better after 20 laps on. Hopefully, we’ll get a lot of long, green-flag runs tomorrow night.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr., who can clinch a Chase spot with a finish of 20th or better with no laps led, qualified 27th.
Two-time defending race winner and current holder of the second wild card spot Denny Hamlin posted his second start outside the top 15 in 12 attempts at RIR in 28th.
Motor Racing Network's coverage of Saturday night's Wonderful Pistachios 400 will begin at 6:30 p.m. (ET).