Bristol Pole Belongs to Biffle
By: Jeff Wackerlin - @JWackerlin Twitter and Instagram | MRN.com on March 16, 2012 | 4:32 P.M. EST
Biffle captured his 10th career pole. (Photo: Jeff Wackerlin)
BRISTOL, Tenn. - NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship leader Greg Biffle continued his strong start to the season by capturing the pole for Sunday's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
After the team, led by crew chief Matt Puccia, made a late adjustment to his No. 16 811/3M Ford, Biffle went out and posted a lap of 125.215 mph for his 10th career pole and first at Bristol.
"I just couldn’t be more proud of how hard my team is working," Biffle said. "I know a lot of people say that but we got in line with about nine minutes to go to make our bonsai run with sticker tires. Puccia called it the money lap but I still wasn’t happy with where the car was and I wanted one more change. My guys got me out with about two and a half minutes left. I got one more run in and that made the difference today of being on the front row."
Biffle, who has finished eighth or better in four of his last five Bristol starts, is still seeking his first win on a short track.
“I have been so close to winning here," said Biffle, who has 16 career wins. "I can’t tell you how many times I have been that close to winning here. We have always been just a tick off. A couple of cars have always been better than us. Hopefully this Sunday we will have the right set up under the car and will be able to turn in the center like we need to late in the race and have grip up off. That is where they have beat me a little bit. I have finished second, third, fourth, all over. I haven’t been able to quite catch them, but hopefully this weekend.”
AJ Allmendinger came up shy of taking the pole with a lap of 125.207 mph and will start second in just his fourth race behind the wheel of the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Dodge.
"This have never really been a place I was good at, so ultimately to come here, Todd Gordon and everybody at the Penske Organization gave me a great setup from the start," Allmendinger said. "We tested this week and learned some things and came here and was able to put ‘em on the racecar. Really, just had a solid day overall from race trim to qualifying."
Current Bristol qualifying record holder, and three-time pole winner, Ryan Newman posted the third-best lap at 125.158 mph.
Jeff Gordon and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top five.
NASCAR added two timing and speed lines to pit road in the aftermath of Keselowski's win here last August. Keselowski's management of the pit road speeding measurements, which allowed him to speed through several pit stalls that did not have timing lines yet maintain the accepted average, helped him win last summer's race. NASCAR is hoping the added lines will now help even things out among competitors.
“The sincerest form of flattery in this sport is having a rule created for you," Keselowski said. "It’s like having a tax loophole and getting away with it.
"It will even the advantages and disadvantages of pit road out for sure. More importantly, and what shouldn’t get lost in it is, it makes it safer for crew members."
Regan Smith, Aric Almirola, Carl Edwards, Joey Logano and Kasey Kahne rounded out the top 10.
Kyle Busch, who has won four of the last six Bristol races, qualified 13th.
"Obviously, that wasn't the lap we were looking for," Busch said. "We lost a lot of time in practice working on a few things and only got out long enough at the end to make sure everything was alright. We'll keep plugging away on Saturday and see if we can't make this Doublemint Camry a race winning car."
Timmy Hill was the lone driver that failed to qualify for the race. Electronic fuel injection issues forced Robby Gordon to withdraw his No. 7 Dodge earlier today.
Sprint Cup teams will get in two practice sessions tomorrow prior to Sunday's running of the Food City 500, which will take the green flag at 1 p.m. (ET).