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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

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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