Fresh off his helmet-throwing performance last weekend, Tony Stewart won the pole for Sunday’s AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway with a lap of 29.787 seconds (186.121 mph).
“That pole is 100 percent due to Ryan Newman,” Stewart said of his teammate, who had qualified earlier in the evening and was able to tell Newman exactly how to set his car up. “He walked back down there to help us before we went out and said there’s a ton of grip out there, you’ve just gotta do it. I was having a hard time convincing myself that’s what I was gonna do.”
Stewart said Newman convinced him to try the high line on turns three and four of his warm-up lap and decide on his way to the start/finish line.
“That’s about 2½ seconds,” Stewart laughed. “I’m not sure if we’d have run the line I’d planned on running we’d have been that fast. It’s awesome having a teammate like. I don’t ever remember being here and seeing anybody run up at the top like he did.”
It was Stewart’s first pole position at the fast superspeedway and his 14th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole. Newman will start inside row nine after qualifying 17th.
“I’m definitely known as a qualifier,” Stewart said. “I want to run a good lap every time, but I know the bigger prize is on Sunday. It doesn’t mean I don’t want poles, I just don’t normally get them.”
Greg Biffle will start outside the front row after turning a lap in 29.863 seconds (185.643 mph).
“It sort of hurts to qualify second like we did today,” Biffle said. “You know, you ask any driver after qualifying, and they could give you 100 reasons why and what they could have done better. I got down in the middle of one and two and hesitated to push the gas down; I thought the car was loose and waited and waited and thought I was gonna have to run a second lap to make up for it. I come by and they told me I was on the front row. I wish I could do it over again, but it was a great lap to put us on the front row. It gives me a lot of confidence for Sunday, both for track position and for pit selection.”
Kyle Busch will start third with a lap of 29.888 seconds (185.493 mph).
“Qualified third here the last few times,” Busch said quickly before jumping into his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series machine for the Jeff Foxworthy’s Grit Chips 200. “Can’t get enough to get the pole, but whatever. Just missed a little bit. We’ll see what we get in the race.”
Danica Patrick will start 23rd, her best NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start of the year.
Alpharetta’s Joey Logano will start the race 9th and Unadilla (Ga.) native David Ragan will start 14th. Failing to qualify were Mike Bliss, Josh Wise, Stephen Leicht and Michael McDowell.