Ricky Stenhouse Jr. covered the 1.5-mile oval of Charlotte Motor Speedway in 28.209 seconds (191.428 mph) to qualify third for Sunday afternoon’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Stenhouse led three Roush Fenway drivers to qualify inside the top 10 for Sunday’s longest race of the NASCAR season. Greg Biffle turned in the sixth-fastest lap during the session, while Trevor Bayne qualified 10th.
“Being in the top four in every (qualifying) session there was really big for us,” said Stenhouse. “We’ve been fast at times in qualifying, but never put every round together and stayed that consistent, so I’m really proud of the team for the adjustments that they made throughout the qualifying session there.
“We just missed it by a little bit, but we know where to go work on it to get it better,” added Stenhouse. “Now our job is to get it better on Saturday for a long 600 miles and make sure that we’ve got some adjustability in it.”
Greg Biffle finished second in last year’s Coca-Cola 600 and will look to better that finish by one position on Sunday.
“Our cars are way better this year,” said Biffle. “We’re not there yet, which kind of shows, but we’re a lot closer. Now the important thing is 30-lap speed. We’ve got one-lap speed. Now we just need to translate that into 30-lap speed and that’s going really be the key for us.”
Biffle was also optimistic about the speed in his No. 16 Cheez-It Ford.
“That last lap I messed up a little bit,” added Biffle. “I didn’t get to the bottom getting into three. I don’t know what happened, but like the guys said it’s good to be disappointed with sixth. I think we had a chance at the front row for sure. I beat them in one and two, I promise. I think I beat the 78 (pole sitter) and the 22 in one and two, but I didn’t turn to the bottom in three and four and gave up some speed down there.”
Bayne will look to capitalize on the momentum of last week’s Sprint Showdown performance.
“That’s a refreshing thing to be disappointed with (10th) and all of our teammates – third, sixth and 10th – that’s a pretty good day for Roush Fenway Racing,” said Bayne. “That’s kind of back to where we were in 2011, ’12 when things were looking up for us. We’re glad to be headed the right direction. Our AdvoCare Ford has speed in it and it definitely had enough speed to be a pole car today if we just hit the balance right.”
The teams will take a day off before returning for 600-practice on Saturday. Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 is slated for 6 p.m. ET and will be televised live on FOX.