Date: May 10, 2013
Event: 64th Southern 500 (Round 11 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Darlington (S.C.) Raceway (1.366-mile oval)
Pole Winner: Kurt Busch of Furniture Row Racing (27.032 seconds at 181.918 mph – new track record)
SHR Lineup: Tony Stewart (20th, 27.511 seconds at 178.750 mph)
Ryan Newman (21st, 27.550 seconds at 178.497 mph)
Danica Patrick (40th, 28.014 seconds at 175.541 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 Darlington (S.C) Raceway by qualifying 20th for the 64th Southern 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Saturday night. Stewart turned a lap of 27.511 seconds at 178.750 mph around the 1.366-mile oval.
“That was one lap, and we have 367 more of them tomorrow night,” said Stewart, who won the 2008 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Darlington and has four top-five and 11 top-10 finishes in 20 career Sprint Cup starts at the venerable track. “It’s a long race, and this is a place where you have to race the racetrack more than anything. We’ve got a lot of adjustability built into our Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevy, so we’ll be ready for whatever the track throws at us.”
Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS, will start 21st after posting a lap of 27.550 seconds at 178.497 mph.
“I underdrove the car a little bit in turns three and four,” said Newman, who has seven top-fives and nine top-10s in 14 career Sprint Cup starts at Darlington. “Our Quicken Loans Chevrolet was better than that, but it seemed to be lacking just a little bit of speed. We’ll work on that for tomorrow. We’ve still got one night to think about it.”
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 40th after clocking in at 28.014 seconds at 175.541 mph. Patrick was forced to qualify her backup racecar after crashing her primary GoDaddy.com Chevrolet in the first practice session.
“Probably the biggest thing was just not doing any qualifying runs at all (due to the accident in the first practice). These cars are quite different when they go into qualifying,” said Patrick, who will make her 21st career Sprint Cup start on Saturday and her second at Darlington. “You drive as hard as you can with what you’ve got. Qualifying requires you to commit to something before you can feel it based on the fact you’re coming to the green the first time by the start/finish line.
“I’m not happy with that lap, but it’s been a long day. Everyone worked really hard to get the Go Daddy Chevy ready for qualifying. It’s going to make a lot of work for tomorrow night, but that’s the bed I made for myself.”
Kurt Busch captured his 16th career pole, his first of the season and his second at Darlington by posting a track-record lap of 27.032 seconds at 181.918 mph, besting the previous track record of 27.131 seconds at 181.254 set by Kasey Kahne on May 6, 2011.
Jimmie Johnson will start alongside Busch on the outside of row one after turning in the second-fastest lap of 27.173 seconds at 180.974 mph. Kyle Busch (27.181 seconds at 180.920 mph) was third, while Kahne (27.208 seconds at 180.741 mph) and Martin Truex Jr. (27.277 seconds at 180.284 mph) rounded out the top-five.
Forty-three drivers attempted to qualify for the Southern 500. All made the race since there are 43 starting positions in a Sprint Cup field.
Chevrolet took three of the top-four spots in qualifying, led by Kurt Busch’s pole run and followed by Hendrick Motorsports teammates Johnson and Kahne. Toyota was next-best at the hands of Kyle Busch. Ninth-quick Greg Biffle (27.320 seconds at 180.000 mph) carried the flag for Ford.
The Southern 500 gets underway at 6:45 p.m. EDT Saturday with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with a pre-race show at 6 p.m.