Marcos Ambrose takes first NASCAR Sprint Cup pole with record Michigan pace
|By Diego Mejia||Saturday, June 16th 2012, 19:32 GMT|
Australian Marcos Ambrose claimed his maiden NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole position with a new track record at Michigan International Speedway.
The Richard Petty Motorsports driver set a lap at a 203.241 mph average, the quickest in the 43-year history of the newly repaved track, as he became only the fourth driver ever to claim a NASCAR pole with an average above 200 mph.
The former V8 Supercars champion was one of a few who were able to back up their speeds from practice, having run a similar lap during the afternoon session on Friday where he had been second fastest.
"I left a little bit out there," said Ambrose. "I got greedy into Turn 3. The team at Richard Petty Motorsports did an outstanding job for us. This is a really great hot rod and I am proud to represent them.
"We get to start in the front and that is all you can ask for. We are going to try the tyre change tonight and see how our car adapts to that."
Richard Childress Racing's Kevin Harvick ended up second fastest after aborting his initial warm-up lap, stopping on the track and going backwards before getting on a second one, which apparently seemed to do the trick, as he then set the benchmark before Ambrose's filer.
Roush Fenway's Greg Biffle, fastest in practice with a lap at well over 204 mph, was unable to mirror than in qualifying - going just over 201 mph to finish third fastest ahead of Hendrick Motorsports' Kasey Kahne and Stewart-Haas' Ryan Newman.
"I got out of the car and feel this strong wind and that could have had a little to do with the lap time," said Biffle. "I got about all I could get I think out of the car. I thought there would be more grip in [Turns] 1 and 2 so I backed it down a little bit in 3 and 4 and it might have cost me."
Points leader Matt Kenseth was sixth quickest ahead of Wood Brothers' Trevor Bayne, the fastest of the non-guaranteed drivers, making it four Ford Fusions among the top seven in qualifying.
Carl Edwards seemed to be attempting the same as Harvick after stopping on the track before getting the green flag, but he eventually aborted his run and returned to the pits without setting a time after struggling to get up to speed.
David Stremme ran under the previous track record but still failed to make the field while Stacy Compton was also left out of Sunday's race.
Teams will get a further practice session on Saturday evening to try out the new left-side tyre specification that will be used during the race, following blistering issues with the original selection during testing and practice.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap 1. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford 35.426s 2. Kevin Harvick Childress Chevrolet 35.637s + 0.211s 3. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford 35.676s + 0.250s 4. Kasey Kahne Hendrick Chevrolet 35.693s + 0.267s 5. Ryan Newman Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 35.737s + 0.311s 6. Matt Kenseth Roush Fenway Ford 35.739s + 0.313s 7. Trevor Bayne Wood Brothers Ford 35.742s + 0.316s 8. Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 35.755s + 0.329s 9. Joey Logano Gibbs Toyota 35.777s + 0.351s 10. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet 35.789s + 0.363s 11. Denny Hamlin Gibbs Toyota 35.842s + 0.416s 12. Regan Smith Furniture Row Chevrolet 35.870s + 0.444s 13. Clint Bowyer Waltrip Toyota 35.877s + 0.451s 14. Mark Martin Waltrip Toyota 35.894s + 0.468s 15. Aric Almirola Petty Ford 35.93 s + 0.504s 16. Martin Truex Jr Waltrip Toyota 35.931s + 0.505s 17. Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet 35.943s + 0.517s 18. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet 35.976s + 0.550s 19. Jamie McMurray Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet 35.980s + 0.554s 20. AJ Allmendinger Penske Dodge 36.010s + 0.584s 21. Juan Pablo Montoya Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet 36.070s + 0.644s 22. Austin Dillon Circle Sport Chevrolet 36.083s + 0.657s 23. Scott Riggs R3 Chevrolet 36.095s + 0.669s 24. Casey Mears Germain Ford 36.262s + 0.836s 25. Brad Keselowski Penske Dodge 36.277s + 0.851s 26. Kurt Busch Phoenix Chevrolet 36.320s + 0.894s 27. Michael McDowell Parsons Ford 36.342s + 0.916s 28. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet 36.378s + 0.952s 29. Mike Bliss Humphrey Smith Toyota 36.404s + 0.978s 30. Josh Wise Front Row Ford 36.419s + 0.993s 31. Bobby Labonte JTG Daugherty Toyota 36.475s + 1.049s 32. Landon Cassill BK Toyota 36.532s + 1.106s 33. Jeff Burton Childress Chevrolet 36.538s + 1.112s 34. Kyle Busch Gibbs Toyota 36.543s + 1.117s 35. David Gilliland Front Row Ford 36.580s + 1.154s 36. Dave Blaney Baldwin Chevrolet 36.582s + 1.156s 37. Joe Nemechek NEMCO Toyota 36.591s + 1.165s 38. David Ragan Front Row Ford 36.609s + 1.183s 39. JJ Yeley Robinson-Blakeney Toyota 36.901s + 1.475s 40. David Stremme Inception Toyota 37.057s + 1.631s 41. Stacy Compton Turn One Chevrolet 37.189s + 1.763s 42. Travis Kvapil BK Toyota 37.285s + 1.859s 43. Ken Schrader FAS Lane Ford 37.768s + 2.342s 44. Tony Raines Baldwin Chevrolet 38.254s + 2.828s 45. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford