Date: March 1, 2013
Event: Subway Fresh Fit 500k Qualifying (Round 2 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Phoenix International Raceway (1-mile oval)
Pole Winner: Mark Martin of Michael Waltrip Racing (26.073 seconds at 138.074 mph)
SHR Lineup: Tony Stewart (6th, 26.250 seconds at 137.143 mph)
Ryan Newman (10th, 26.304 seconds at 136.861 mph)
Danica Patrick (40th, 27.090 seconds at 132.890 mph)
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS, led the three-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent in time trials Friday at Phoenix International Raceway by qualifying sixth for Sunday’s Subway Fresh Fit 500k NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Stewart turned a lap of 26.250 seconds at 137.143 mph around the 1-mile oval.
“It wasn’t bad,” said Stewart, who won at Phoenix in November 1999. “We had a pretty reasonable run there with the Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevy. I thought we were a little bit tight, but the track seems pretty fast right now. So, we felt pretty good about our lap.”
Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS for SHR, will start 10th after posting a lap of 26.304 seconds at 136.861 mph.
“Our Quicken Loans Chevrolet was loose,” said Newman, who won at Phoenix in April 2010. “We were loose in both practice and qualifying. We made some big changes, but they weren’t quite enough. I think the track changed a little bit, too. I don’t know if it was a benefit going out late, with the speed, because I couldn’t see, or would I have been better off being able to see, but having less grip. Either way, the guys did a good job. We’ll get it switched over to race trim and see what we can do.”
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 40th after posting a lap of 27.090 seconds at 132.890 mph.
“It just wasn’t great,” said Patrick, who will make her 12th career Sprint Cup start on Sunday, but only her second at Phoenix. “We kind of had a similar issue in practice as well. Just couldn’t get the back end of the Go Daddy Chevy to settle down. So, we just have to take a look at why it’s doing that and fix it. We thought we had fixed it from practice to qualifying, but the same kind of situation happened. So, it’s just not as good a qualifying effort. It’s not what I was looking for. I know how important it is on these short tracks to qualify well. So we’re just going to have to come out of it like a bat out of hell at the beginning.”
Mark Martin captured his 56th career Sprint Cup pole, his first of the season and his third at Phoenix by turning a lap of 26.073 seconds at 138.074 mph. Martin, who is now seventh on the all-time Sprint Cup pole list, also won the first starting position for this race last year.
Kasey Kahne will start on the outside of row one after clocking in at 26.113 seconds at 137.862 mph. Jimmie Johnson was third (26.124 seconds at 137.804 mph), while Kyle Busch (26.149 seconds at 137.673 mph) and Jeff Gordon (26.246 seconds at 137.164 mph) rounded out the top-five.
Forty-three drivers attempted to qualify for the Subway Fresh Fit 500k. All made the race since there are 43 starting positions in a Sprint Cup field.
Toyota took the top spot among manufacturers via Martin’s pole run. Chevrolet was next-best at the hands of Kahne. Ford was the third-fastest make thanks to 11th-quick Brad Keselowski (26.309 seconds at 136.835 mph).
The Subway Fresh Fit 500k gets underway at 3 p.m. EST Sunday with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with a pre-race show at 2:30 p.m.