There may not be any points on the line in tonight’s Sprint Showdown and All-Star Race, but that doesn’t mean the teams want to win any less. Not only is there a million-dollar paycheck on the line, but there’s a year’s worth of bragging rights and a guaranteed spot in the next ten All-Star races on the line. The 22 drivers in the Sprint Showdown are racing for the right to race with the All-Stars in the amin event, and AJ Allmendinger will have a front row seat for the start. Allmendinger blasted to the pole with a 28.057-second lap (192.465 MPH), besting second-place Martin Truex, Jr. by two tenths of a second for the top spot. Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jeff Burton, and Aric Almirola round out the top five.
“For me, it was a perfect lap,” said Allmendinger of his effort. “I felt in practice we struggled a little bit just trying to figure out what the car needed. Todd Gordon and the guys out together a good setupnad I felt like that was as perfect as I could run the lap. Obviously with a short race, track position is going to be everything. The car felt good. Being an impound race, that’s a good sign for tomorrow.”
Teams in the Showdown will not be able to make adjustments to their racecars prior to the race without a penalty.
For the teams already assured a spot in the Sprint All-Star Race, qualifying takes on a new level of competition, as drivers must make three laps, including a four-tire pit stop. The No. 18 team of Kyle Busch reeled off a 12.2-second stop when their turn came, and their driver handled the rest, taking the pole with an aggregate time of 119.112 seconds, at an average speed of 132.006 miles per hour. Ryan Newman held the top spot for most of the night, only to lose the top spot to Busch by .709 seconds on the last attempt. Denny Hamlin, Greg Biffle, and Kevin Harvick complete the top 5.
Penalties were the story of several teams’ night as five teams were assessed an additional five seconds for infractions that included lugnuts not tightened (Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch, Mark Martin and Matt Kenseth) and men over the wall too early (Marcos Ambrose). Jimmie Johnson, Paul Menard, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, and Regan Smith round out the top ten. Defending race winner Carl Edwards will start 13th.
“It was just a whole team effort-that’s what it boils down to,” said Busch after his run. “The guys unloaded with a really good M&M’s Camry and we just kept playing with some things on what we wanted to do for the race stuff and then what we wanted to do for the qualifying stuff. We knew we’d be pretty quick here; we felt like we had a good shot for the pole. Going out last, that always helps. I think we have a little bit of a system going on here for this place-that’s two in a row for us.”
This is Kyle Busch’s third All-Star Race pole and second in a row.
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