Stewart Scores First Charlotte Pole

Tony Stewart

Tony Stewart had the fastest lap of 191.959 mph in Thursday's qualifying at Charlotte. (Photo: Getty Images)

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CONCORD, N.C. - Tony Stewart scored his first career pole at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and first of the season, on Thursday night in qualifying for the Bank of America 500.

Stewart, who trails championship leader Carl Edwards by 19 points, topped the 46-car field with a fast lap of 191.959 mph in his 26th race at CMS.

“That’s a Newman lap right there," Stewart said in reference to his teammate Ryan Newman, who has nine poles at CMS. "Pretty proud of Darian (Grubb, crew chief), and everyone on the Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet tonight. We have been pretty solid since we unloaded so it’s a perfect way to start the weekend so far.”

Stewart did start from the pole in the 2002 fall race based on points, but his previous best on time was fourth in this event in 2005.

After posting the 15th fastest lap in practice, Matt Kenseth went out and qualified second with a lap of 191.918 mph for his third top five start in the Chase.

"I left some on the table," Kenseth said. "It was pretty good, but probably a half-a tenth or a tenth slower than if I would have gotten everything."

Kenseth's teammate Edwards appeared to be on a pole run until he reached Turns 3 and 4, but had to settle for third.

"We are going to go back and watch the tape," Edwards said. "There may be some stuff I can do better in three and four, but Bob (Osborne) and the guys did really well. We need to take advantage of this track if we've got a good car because it's been one we've struggled at."

AJ Allmendinger was the top qualifying non-Chase driver in fourth with Greg Biffle rounding out the top five.

Newman was sixth with Paul Menard, Kasey Kahne, Jimmie Johnson and Trevor Bayne rounding out the top 10.

Kahne went out last in the session after he paced practice with a lap of 191.455 mph.

“We were really good in practice today in qualifying and in race trim," Kahne said. "We didn’t go quite as fast tonight as we would have liked to. I think in the race it should be really good. We just need to keep up with the track and keep up with keeping the track position and things throughout the race. We’ll have a good shot.”

Other Chase drivers in the starting lineup include Kevin Harvick (14th), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (15th), Denny Hamlin (17th), Kurt Busch (20th), Jeff Gordon (23rd), Kyle Busch (25th) and Brad Keselowski (26th).

“I was just too loose," said Keselowski, who won the pole in May. "As a team, Penske Racing has been working really, really hard to make sure we have our best cars for the last five or six races. And we brought a brand new car here to Charlotte and it’s really, really good. It was so good, it was better than we thought it was going to be and just missed the change over coming into the night."

Geoffrey Bodine, Scott Speed and Josh Wise failed to qualify for the 334-lap race. 

Teams will get in two practice sessions tomorrow before Saturday's Bank of America 500, the only night race in the Chase.

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