Truex tames Talladega for Coors Light Pole Award
RELATED: Qualifying results " See every car in the field TALLADEGA, Ala. – Just 13 points to the good entering Sunday's Round of 12 cutoff race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , Martin Truex Jr . gave himself as much of a cushion as possible, winning the pole for the Hellman's 500 at Talladega Superspeedway during Saturday’s knockout qualifying session. Seventh in the Chase standings, and 13 points ahead of Joey Logano and Austin Dillon , Truex covered the 2.66-mile distance in 49.508 seconds (193.423 mph) to claim the Coors Light Pole Award for Sunday's race (2 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) that will trim the Chase field from 12 drivers to eight. "It's definitely cool," said Truex, who has never won a restrictor-plate race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. "You come here, and you don't really have a whole lot to say as a driver when it comes to qualifying, so obviously proud of the team and proud of everybody in Denver (Colorado) and proud of everybody at the race track for their efforts. "Built a brand new car to come here, and it's awesome to be the fastest guy in town. Excited about that, and obviously everybody at TRD (Toyota Racing Development) who builds the engines has done a great job too – it takes a lot to get a restrictor plate pole, so excited for all those guys and really neat to lead Toyota to their 1,000th start (in NASCAR’s top three series combined). Hopefully, we'll be able to get the victory when the day is over." Truex didn't allow a pre-qualifying inspection issue to derail his effort. Before his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota rolled out onto the grid, NASCAR confiscated a non-conforming jack screw from the car and required the team to replace it with a legal part. RELATED: NASCAR confiscates part from 78 team The pole was Truex's first at Talladega, his fourth of the season and the 11th of his career. Truex was .015 seconds faster than four-time Talladega winner Brad Keselowski (193.365 mph), who will start on the outside of the front row. Keselowski is 11th in the standings, seven points behind Logano and Dillon. "It's good to qualify up front," Keselowski said. "I think it's a good confidence boost. I feel like when we have cars that qualify well here, we race well. The Miller Lite Ford was really fast here in qualifying, and hopefully it will stay the same for Sunday. "It's been a good track for us, but past success is no guarantee. You have to go out and put the work in, and I think we're ready to do just that." Chase drivers Matt Kenseth (193.189 mph) and Chase Elliott (193.166 mph) will start third and fourth, respectively. Elliott is 12th in the Chase standings, likely needing a victory in Sunday's race to advance to the Round of 8. "As we all know, qualifying here is all about the guys back in the shop preparing these cars," Elliott said. "The Hendrick Engine shop gave me great speed, and the guys gave me an excellent car for tomorrow. "Qualifying here at Talladega isn't a make-or-break-you deal. I think it's good. I think our car has decent speed, and hopefully that will show up on Sunday." Roush Fenway racing drivers Greg Biffle and Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., both non-Chasers, will start from the third row after qualifying fifth and sixth, respectively. Other Chase drivers qualified as follows: Kurt Busch (seventh), Denny Hamlin (eighth), Dillon (ninth), Carl Edwards (13th), Kyle Busch (14th), Joey Logano (16th), Jimmie Johnson (17th) and Kevin Harvick (22nd). Johnson and Harvick already have earned spots in the Round of 8 by virtue of their respective victories at Charlotte and Kansas, leaving six berths available to the remaining 10 drivers. Reed Sorenson , who was required to make the field on the basis of qualifying time, posted an eyebrow-raising lap of 194.145 mph to lead the first round, a sizable .326 seconds faster than the next-fastest driver, Truex. Sorenson's Premium Motorsports No. 55 Toyota faded considerably in the final round and will start 12th. David Gilliland failed to qualify for the 40-car field. NASCAR will meet and discuss the non-conforming jack screw on Truex's car during its weekly competition meeting, but Scott Miller, NASCAR's senior vice president of competition, characterized the imposition of a points penalty that would affect the Chase standings as "unlikely." "I would say it would be unlikely, but it has to go through our process," Miller said. "We don't typically do that on a weekend, and because this is the playoffs, everybody has a heightened sense of everything. "But this is really no different than things that we've done all year. We'll treat this one like just like we've done all year long." Three Joe Gibbs Racing cars -- those of Kyle Busch , Denny Hamlin and Kenseth -- were pulled from the qualifying line just before their speed attempts. NASCAR officials said that they were investigating a potential issue with the rear deck lid and quarter panel area. With those issues remedied behind the wall, all three were allowed to qualify. RELATED: JGR cars brought back through pre-qualifying inspection Contributing: Staff reports &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Truex Jr. claims Talladega Coors Light Pole Award
Martin Truex Jr. claims the Coors Light Pole Award at Talladega Superspeedway and shares his thoughts on the No. 78 having the left-front jack bolt confiscated by NASCAR in pre-qualifying inspection.
Kenseth gets his first Coors Light Pole Award of 2016
Matt Kenseth grabbed his first Coors Light Pole Award of the 2016 season at Kansas Speedway and is joined on the front row by teammate Kyle Busch.
Heads up: Martinsville weekend
Here are the hot topics, trending news and key story lines to get you ready for this weekend's races at Martinsville Speedway . WEATHER Another beautiful race weekend is forecasted for Martinsville. The National Weather Service says Friday will be sunny with a high near 70, and Saturday will be even warmer with a high of 77 and sunshine. Sunday is downgraded to only "mostly sunny," with a high of 74. Overall, it should be a perfect fall weekend. KEY TIMES Sprint Cup Series: The first practice will be Friday at 11 a.m. ET, with another pair of practices coming Saturday at 9 a.m. ET (CNBC) and noon ET. Coors Light Pole Qualifying is at 4:40 p.m. ET Friday. Aside from the Saturday morning practice, all race coverage will be broadcast on NBCSN and NBC SportsApp this weekend. Camping World Truck Series: The Camping World Truck Series has a pair of Friday practices, at 12:30 p.m. ET and 2:30 p.m. ET, both on FS1. The race is Saturday at 1:30 p.m. ET on FS1 with Keystone Light Pole Qualifying just before at 10:15 a.m. ET (FS1). CATCH DRIVERS LIVE We'll stream every driver press conference in the Martinsville media center at NASCAR.com/presspass . Notably, Jimmie Johnson speaks at 10:15 a.m. ET Friday, followed by Denny Hamlin is at 1 p.m. ET and Jeff Gordon at 1:30 p.m. ET. Click here for a full schedule. LAST TIME Jeff Gordon punched his ticket to Homestead-Miami Speedway in style, outracing Jamie McMurray in the final two laps as darkness fell at Martinsville Speedway . "We're going to Homestead!" Gordon bellowed after the win gave him a chance at the Sprint Cup title in his final season of full-time driving. It was Gordon's only victory of 2015. The storyline that grabbed all the headlines, however, was Matt Kenseth nudging then-race leader Joey Logano into the wall on Lap 454 of 500. At the time, Kenseth was 10 laps down. The move was widely viewed as retaliation for Logano bumping Kenseth out of the lead at Kansas two weeks earlier, which effectively eliminated Kenseth from advancing in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . Kenseth was suspended for two races, and Logano did not advance to the championship round. YOU SHOULD KNOW • Jeff Gordon returns to his best track on the circuit as he gets behind the wheel of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet as a substitute driver for Dale Earnhardt Jr ., who continues to recover from a concussion. Gordon won here a year ago, and has some of the best statistics among any driver at Martinsville: nine wins, highest average finish (6.8) and most laps led (3,779). Can the 45-year-old recreate that magic at his eighth subsitute race of this season? This is Gordon's final scheduled race of the season in place of Earnhardt Jr. • This is the first of three races in the Round of 8, before the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field is cut to the Championship 4 for the Homestead-Miami Speedway finale. • Somehow, this is the first time since the current format of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup began in 2014 that Jimmie Johnson has advanced to the Round of 8. He started the Round of 12 with a victory at Charlotte; can Six-Time repeat that feat with an opening-round win to punch his ticket to Homestead-Miami? He's an eight-time winner at Martinsville, so it's no stretch to imagine. • The addition of extra timing lines in the pits has added another layer to monitoring drivers for speeding penalties. In Martinsville's tight pits, if figures to have a big impact.
Edwards earns sixth Coors Light pole of 2016
Carl Edwards wins the Coors Light Pole Award at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, giving him six on the year and three in the last four New Hampshire Motor Speedway races.
Carl Edwards nabs Coors Light Pole Award at Bristol
RELATED: Complete lineup for Bristol " See every car in the field BRISTOL, Tenn. – Denny Hamlin owns a new track record, but Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Carl Edwards won the round that counted in Friday’s knockout qualifying session at Bristol Motor Speedway . Edwards sped around the .533-mile high-banked concrete short track in 14.602 seconds (131.407 mph) to claim the top starting spot for Saturday's Bass Pro Shops NRA night Race (8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), edging Hamlin (131.200 mph) by .023 seconds. Remarkably, Edwards earned his fifth Coors Light Pole Award of the season, his fourth at Bristol and the 21st of his career without making a mock qualifying run during either of Friday's two practice sessions. Instead, the driver of the No. 19 Toyota relied on setup information from his teammates – including Hamlin. "It's nice to have fast teammates," said Edwards, who will try to duplicate his pole-winning, race-winning performance from April. "We wouldn't have had a shot at (the pole) if it wasn’t for them. We thought it was going to rain, so we didn't practice qualifying or anything. My guys made great adjustments based on that information. "I just hope we can finish it off the way we did in the spring." All four JGR drivers qualified in the top five for the 23rd NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race of the season. Kyle Busch (130.931 mph) will start third and Matt Kenseth (130.619 mph) fifth. The only interloper was Ford driver Ryan Blaney (130.637 mph), who grabbed the fourth spot on the grid in the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Fusion. With a blistering run in 14.573 seconds (131.668 mph) in the first round, Hamlin broke the track record he set for this event last year, eclipsing his own mark of 14.602 seconds (131.407 mph). But Hamlin was the last of 12 drivers out for the final round and fell just short of Edwards' winning time. "We had really good speed, so I'm pretty optimistic about that," said Hamlin, who will start within the top six for the 15th time this season. "I can't believe we've qualified as good as we have this year and not gotten a pole. "It's unbelievable – still a great effort by our whole team. I hope we can have a great race up here on (Saturday) night and get in Victory Lane." Chris Buescher , fighting to crack the top 30 in the standings and qualify for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup (based on his victory at Pocono), qualified 12th, one position behind Jeff Gordon , who made the final round for the first time in his fourth start in place of Dale Earnhardt Jr . Gordon's Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott had the fastest Chevrolet, qualifying sixth. &amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;
Logano leaps to Coors Light Pole Award at Michigan
RELATED: Qualifying results " See every car, team rosters BROOKLYN, Mich. – If Joey Logano was looking for a good omen for Sunday, he found it on Friday afternoon at Michigan International Speedway . Touring the two-mile track in 35.697 seconds (201.698 mph) during the final round of knockout qualifying for Sunday's Pure Michigan 400 (2 p.m. ET on NBCSN), Logano edged Jimmie Johnson (201.523 mph) for the top starting spot by .031 seconds. The Coors Light Pole Award was Logano's third at MIS. On the previous two occasions the driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford started first on the grid—in August 2013 and June 2016—he won the subsequent NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Should Logano win form the pole on Sunday, he would be the third driver to win three or more Michigan races from the top starting spot, joining NASCAR Hall of Famers David Pearson and Bill Elliott . "Any time you put your name with a Hall of Famer of any sort, it would be really special for me," said Logano, who has collected three poles this season and 16 in his career. "That's crazy—that's a really, really neat stat. "We've got to do it though. But, obviously, starting up front here is an advantage, for sure. We talk about track position. We talk about safety on restart, being how crazy it is with the low-downforce package. And the first pit stall—probably the most important thing of all is keeping the track position through the race." And, of course, when Logano is fast in qualifying trim at MIS, he usually races well, too. "I'm excited about it," he said. "I thought our car was really fast in race trim earlier (in practice). ... I didn't think we were going to make it happen today (in qualifying), but (crew chief) Todd (Gordon) made some good adjustments, and he gave me a little pep talk, and I was ready to go. I was going to drive the heck out of that thing." Denny Hamlin (201.406 mph) qualified third, followed by Kevin Harvick (201.382 mph) and Chase Elliott (201.303 mph). Johnson's second-place start led a resurgence by Hendrick Motorsports , which placed all four cars in the top 12 during qualifying for only the second time this season, the first coming in May at Talladega, a restrictor-plate track. "It was just an awesome day for this Lowe's race car and this Lowe's race team," Johnson said. "We keep stacking pennies and making this car better and better. "My hat's off to everyone at Hendrick Motorsports and all the hard work they're putting into things. Great practice and great qualifying. We need some more practice sessions (Saturday) and roll them into a good race." Johnson participated in a NASCAR organization test (one car per team) on Tuesday at Chicagoland Speedway and found the session helpful in finding speed. Indeed, the Hendrick cars more than held their own against the four entries from Joe Gibbs Racing , which have been the dominant force in Cup qualifying this season. Hamlin and Carl Edwards (ninth), were the only two JGR drivers to make the top 12, with Matt Kenseth qualifying 13th and Kyle Busch 16th. &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;
Hamlin holds on for Coors Light Pole at Richmond
RELATED: Starting lineup " See every car in the field RICHMOND, Va. – Don't tell Denny Hamlin his first pole of the season isn't significant. In the money round of Friday's knockout qualifying session, the driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota toured .75-mile Richmond International Raceway in 22.069 seconds (122.344 mph) to earn the top starting spot for Saturday night's Federated Auto Parts 400 (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), the final race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular season. "I thought for sure we had too many laps on our tires," said Hamlin, who qualified in the top 10 for the 24th consecutive race. "A lot of the guys that we were challenging only had one lap per session, but my car didn't really come in that quick, so I had to run multiple laps. "And on a short track that wears out tires, I thought we were at a huge disadvantage. Just proud of the effort. ... And, obviously, running that fast for that many laps tells us we have a really good car for the long runs. So pretty optimistic, and we'll see if we can't get a win." Though Hamlin edged Kyle Larson by .010 seconds to earn his first Coors Light Pole Award of 2016, his third at Richmond and the 24th of his career, the real drama of Friday afternoon involved drivers who qualified deeper in the field—in some cases, much deeper. Pocono winner Chris Buescher , who is fighting to stay in the top 30 in the standings and thereby earn a Chase spot, qualified a disappointing 31st. Adding to the stress of the driver of the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford was the qualifying performance of David Ragan , who is 31st in points and immediately behind Buescher. Ragan was 19th fastest in the first round of knockout qualifying, 12 positions better than Buescher. The problem? Buescher is just 11 points ahead of Ragan entering Saturday’s race, with each position worth one point. Ragan slipped to 21st in the second round and failed to advance, meaning he'll start the No. 23 BK Racing Toyota 10 spots on the grid ahead of Buescher—too far for the rookie driver to enjoy a comfortable night's sleep. Buescher also can stay in the top 30 if he finishes 10 spots ahead of Landon Cassill , his teammate. "That's not where we wanted to be in qualifying with our CSX Ford Fusion," Buescher said. "We were a little better than we were last time here, so there is a little bit of positive to it, believe it or not. We'll be able to work our way up. "At the end of the day, this weekend is about something bigger. We're trying to stay out of trouble and be there at the end. It won't be an easy walk from where we are at right now, but we'll be able to work our way up." RELATED: How bubble drivers fare at Richmond Jamie McMurray (122.189 mph) took control of another important head-to-head matchup, making the final round of qualifying and earning the fourth starting spot. The last driver currently in a Chase-eligible position on points, McMurray enters Saturday’s race with a 22-point advantage over Ryan Newman , whose effort stalled in the second round. Hit with a 15-point penalty on Wednesday after his No. 31 Chevrolet failed the laser inspection station after Sunday's race at Darlington, Newman will start 15th, likely needing a victory to advance to the Chase. "Well, it's a really big weekend for us, but more than that, I'm just thrilled how both of our cars are running," said McMurray, Larson's teammate at Chip Ganassi Racing . "We've just made such big improvements. "We ran good at a two-mile track at Michigan. We ran good at Darlington with a different rules package, and we've run good at a short track. As an organization, it's been really good, and the next 10 races, if we can get in, it's going to be pretty awesome, because our cars have peaked at the right time." Austin Dillon , who starts on Saturday nine points ahead of McMurray, took a significant step toward his first-ever Chase spot with an eighth-place qualifying effort at 121.638 mph. At the other end of the spectrum, another driver likely to experience a sleepless night is Chase Elliott , who qualified 34th in his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Elliott starts the night eight points ahead of Dillon and 17 ahead of McMurray. All three drivers share one hope, however—that there's not a new 2016 winner currently outside the Chase grid to reduce the number of Chase spots available on points from three to two (assuming Buescher remains in the top 30). RELATED: Elliott positive despite career-worst starting spot "We're just not going fast enough, for sure," Elliott said after failing to reach the second round. "I really don't know what our problem is, but we struggled in our mock runs earlier today, too. So, we just need to think about it, I guess, and try to go to work tonight. "We're giving it our best effort. It just hasn't been where we need to be. The bad news is that it's a terrible starting spot; but the good news is that it's a long race tomorrow night. We have some teammates that are fast, so hopefully we can lean on them and try to get our Chevrolet a little better." Matt Kenseth , Hamlin's teammate, qualified third. Kurt Busch , who paced the first two rounds, slipped to fifth in the session that decided the starting order of the top 12. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Carl Edwards earns Coors Light Pole Award at The Glen
RELATD: Results " Sunday on USA " Watkins Glen lingo " See the roster WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- You can add the title "road course ringer" to Carl Edwards ' racing resume. Touring the road course at Watkins Glen in 69.689 seconds (126.562 mph) during Friday's time trials at Watkins Glen International , Edwards beat Kyle Larson (126.223 mph) by .182 seconds to earn the top starting spot for Sunday's Cheez-It 355 at the Glen (2:30 p.m. ET, USA, MNR SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). In winning his fourth Coors Light Pole Award of the season and the 20th of his career, Edwards completed a sweep of road course poles in 2016, having also started first on the grid at Sonoma Raceway in June. Larson's second-place effort was a career-best on a road course, bettering the third starting position he earned at Sonoma in 2014. Tony Stewart (126.177 mph) qualified third on Friday, followed by Matt Kenseth (126.104 mph) and Kyle Busch (126.099 mph), both teammates to Edwards at Joe Gibbs Racing . Edwards said starting on the pole on the newly repaved racing surface at the Glen will be a significant advantage. "I think (Sunday) is going to be a little bit of an adventure," said Edwards, whose four poles this year constitute a career best for a single season. "The new pavement, nobody knows how that's going to go along deep into the runs with tire build-up. I think the braking zones are pretty tough, and it's going to be nice and warm. "So, just got to stay upfront, can't make any mistakes. I love road races. They're so much fun. I got to talk to Boris Said , who's basically my road racing coach to start, so that was cool today. Hopefully, tonight I'll get me some good rest and hopefully be very competitive tomorrow." Even though Edwards' No. 19 Camry was fastest in qualifying, he expects stiff competition on Sunday from his Toyota brethren. "My teammates, they're really fast," Edwards said. Kyle (Busch) is really fast and Martin (Truex Jr. of affiliated Furniture Row Racing ) is really fast. "We've got to work a little bit in race trim, but we're starting up front, and we've got a great pit crew, and hopefully we can put (the car) in Victory Lane." Truex, in fact, was one of the favorites for the pole, but his hot lap in the money round was impeded by Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., who entered the track at the bottom of the esses as Truex was approaching that uphill section of the 2.45-mile course. Truex, who qualified 14th, returned the favor on his cool-down lap, taking Stenhouse's line in the esses and relegating the Roush Fenway Racing driver to a 30th-place starting spot. Jeff Gordon qualified 21st in his third start for Dale Earnhardt Jr . AJ Allmendinger , the 2014 Watkins Glen winner, will start ninth.
Sam Hornish Jr. sets track record, earns Coors Light Pole at Mid-Ohio
RELATED: Results Sam Hornish Jr . won the Coors Light Pole Award Friday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course , setting a track speed record as well. Hornish Jr. wheeled his No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet around the 2.258-mile, 13-turn road course in Lexington, Ohio, at a track record-setting 96.755 mph in the opening session of qualifying. In the second and final session, with a fast lap of 96.374 mph, he sealed the first starting spot in the Mid-Ohio Challenge (3:30 p.m. ET, USA Network, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). "The fact that we're here. We're as good as we have been really is hats off to RCR and all the people that work on the Rheem No. 2 car," the polesitter said post-qualifying. "Right off the bat, this morning I was kind of worried about it being a little bit rusty. It's been a little while since I've been on a road course." This marks Hornish's eighth career pole and first of 2016. Sharing the front row will be Owen Kelly , a road specialist who reached 95.877 mph in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Ryan Blaney , (95.739 mph in No. 22 Team Penske Ford), Elliott Sadler (95.675 mph, No. 1 JR Motorsports Chevrolet) and Daniel Suarez (95.613 mph, No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) completed the top five, respectively.