Kvapil takes first pole at Talladega

Travis Kvapil claimed his maiden NASCAR Sprint Cup series pole in qualifying for the Amp Energy 500 at Talladega Superspeedway

Kvapil takes first pole at Talladega

The former Truck series champion ran a second qualifying lap of 51.109 seconds at an average speed of 187.364 mph, putting a Yates Racing Ford on pole position for the first time since last year's Daytona 500.

"Definitely qualifying doesn't really mean much as far as your chances to win the race after 500 miles, but we got a good pit selection and we'll have less chance to get caught up in a wreck early on in the race," Kvapil said.

"It doesn't take long to get shuffled to the back and I'm sure I'll be shuffled in and out throughout the field. But the first few laps we'll be up front and hopefully keeping it clean."

Casey Mears claimed his best qualifying effort of the season by setting the second fastest lap of the session. The Hendrick driver will start from the front row of the grid for the first time at the 2.66-mile oval.

"It hasn't been very often for me to have an opportunity to qualify well," Mears said. "The team has spent a lot of effort and time into this car to really get everything out of it and they did that. Obviously this place has a lot more to do with the crew and what the guys do back in the shop and they picked our effort up and we got a good lap."

DEI's Aric Almirola held pole for a while until Kvapil's effort knocked his No.8 car from the top of the charts. He ended up third ahead of teammate Regan Smith who was the fastest rookie qualifier, while Paul Menard was fifth, showing good power under the hood of the team's cars.

"When it comes to Talladega it's more about the team than the driver," said Almirola. "I held it wide open, did everything I was supposed to do and we ended up third. It's good but at the same time it's disappointing because the guys in the team want a pole so bad they can taste it. They've been second and third I don't know how many times.

"Nonetheless it speaks a lot about our company, DEI has all four cars in the top ten and our motors are running really good."

Mike Wallace was fastest of the drivers not guaranteed a place in the starting line-up, in sixth at the wheel of a fourth Richard Childress car this weekend. The Hendrick-powered Chevrolets of Joe Nemechek and Haas CNC's Tony Raines followed, ahead of the fastest Toyota of Brian Vickers and DEI's fourth car driven by Martin Truex Jr in tenth.

Among the Chase contenders Carl Edwards emerged fastest in 12th place, ahead of Juan Pablo Montoya who was the best Dodge qualifier.

"It was much better than expected," said Montoya. "Brian (Pattie, crew chief) worked really hard on it this week to make it a little faster. We normally qualify like 30th here. It's good. It felt good yesterday in practice and we tried a few things on it."

Kenny Wallace, replacing Michael McDowell in the 00 MWR Toyota, was 13th ahead of Dale Earnhardt Jr, who will be forced to move to the back of the field following an engine change on Friday.

Reigning champion Jimmie Johnson was 20th, two places ahead of title contender Greg Biffle, while last year's event winner Jeff Gordon will start from row 13. Spring race-winner Kyle Busch only managed 37th on the grid, while another six 'Chasers' will start beyond 30th place on Sunday.

"It didn't go too good and don't expect much better for tomorrow," Busch said. "You can try to lead every lap, you can try to hang back and six out of the seven times I've run here I've wrecked doing that so it doesn't really matter where you run because you can get caught up in anything. You just have to go for broke."

Former open-wheel racers Sam Hornish Jr and Patrick Carpentier both failed to qualify for Sunday's 500-mile event.

Pos Driver Car Time 1. Travis Kvapil Ford 51.109 2. Casey Mears Chevrolet 51.128 + 0.019 3. Aric Almirola Chevrolet 51.136 + 0.027 4. Regan Smith Chevrolet 51.159 + 0.050 5. Paul Menard Chevrolet 51.170 + 0.061 6. Mike Wallace Chevrolet 51.213 + 0.104 7. Joe Nemechek Chevrolet 51.217 + 0.108 8. Tony Raines Chevrolet 51.280 + 0.171 9. Brian Vickers Toyota 51.289 + 0.180 10. Martin Truex Jr Chevrolet 51.298 + 0.189 11. Scott Riggs Chevrolet 51.306 + 0.197 12. Carl Edwards Ford 51.344 + 0.235 13. Juan Pablo Montoya Dodge 51.365 + 0.256 14. Kenny Wallace Toyota 51.365 + 0.256 15. Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 51.367 + 0.258 16. David Ragan Ford 51.387 + 0.278 17. Jeff Burton Chevrolet 51.396 + 0.287 18. Sterling Marlin Chevrolet 51.410 + 0.301 19. David Reutimann Toyota 51.420 + 0.311 20. Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 51.422 + 0.313 21. Mike Skinner Toyota 51.466 + 0.357 22. Greg Biffle Ford 51.467 + 0.358 23. Terry Labonte Dodge 51.468 + 0.359 24. Ryan Newman Dodge 51.499 + 0.390 25. Michael Waltrip Toyota 51.538 + 0.429 26. Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 51.544 + 0.435 27. Jon Wood Ford 51.544 + 0.435 28. Jamie McMurray Ford 51.547 + 0.438 29. Dave Blaney Toyota 51.556 + 0.447 30. Reed Sorenson Dodge 51.561 + 0.452 31. Matt Kenseth Ford 51.570 + 0.461 32. Bobby Labonte Dodge 51.583 + 0.474 33. Kurt Busch Dodge 51.613 + 0.504 34. Tony Stewart Toyota 51.628 + 0.519 35. Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 51.644 + 0.535 36. Denny Hamlin Toyota 51.658 + 0.549 37. Kyle Busch Toyota 51.705 + 0.596 38. Kasey Kahne Dodge 51.758 + 0.649 39. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 51.760 + 0.651 40. Elliott Sadler Dodge 51.775 + 0.666 41. David Gilliland Ford 51.775 + 0.666 42. Robby Gordon Dodge 51.938 + 0.829 43. Ken Schrader Toyota 51.557 + 0.448 Not qualified: Driver Car Time Sam Hornish Jr Dodge 51.690 + 0.581 Patrick Carpentier Dodge 51.702 + 0.593 
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