Date: Oct. 18, 2014
Event: Geico 500 Qualifying (Round 32 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway (2.66-mile oval)
Pole Winner: Brian Vickers of Michael Waltrip Racing (48.825 seconds at 196.129 mph in Round 3)
SHR Lineup: Kurt Busch (18th, 49.850 seconds at 192.096 mph in Round 2)
Danica Patrick (28th , 50.097 seconds at 191.149 mph in Round 1)
Tony Stewart (37th, 50.590 second at 189.286 mph in Round 1)
Kevin Harvick (39th, 51.110 seconds at 187.361 mph in Round 1)
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, led the four-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent Saturday at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway by setting the 18th -fastest lap in qualifying for Sunday’s Geico 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
Busch turned a lap of 49.850 seconds at 192.096 mph on the 2.66-mile oval.
“That was definitely an interesting qualifying format,” said Busch, who has six top-five finishes in 26 Sprint Cup starts at Talladega. “We qualified about half as fast as we needed to in the Haas Automation Chevrolet. We’ll go race tomorrow and see what happens.”
Qualifying consisted of three rounds. The first round was split into two groups with each group on track for five minutes. Teams were assigned to a first qualifying group based on a random draw held Friday afternoon. The 24 fastest drivers from the first round advanced to the second, five-minute round. The fastest 12 drivers from that session advanced to the final, five-minute round of qualifying where they battled for the pole. Positions 1-12 were set by speeds in the final round. Positions 13-24 were set by speeds in the second round. The remaining 43-car field was set by speeds by those who did not advance past the first round.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Breast Cancer Awareness Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 28th with a time of 50.097 seconds at 191.149 mph.
“I just did the laps and now I am ready for Sunday,” said Patrick, who makes just her fourth career start at Talladega on Sunday. “I’m happy with our GoDaddy Breast Cancer Awareness Chevy and hopefully we’ll have a good run. It’s always an adventure so we’ll see what happens.”
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 37th with a time of 50.590 seconds at 189.286 mph.
“We had a plan for qualifying and obviously that didn’t work out,” said Stewart, who won at Talladega in October 2008. “It’s not the starting spot anybody wants but the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevy is pretty good in the draft so I know we have the equipment to get to the front. We just need to stay out of trouble and be there at the end.”
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 39th with a time of 51.110 seconds at 187.361 mph.
“I think the qualifying round really just doesn’t work on superspeedways for whatever reason,” said Harvick, who won at Talladega in April 2010. “(The car) is fine. They all run really good. It will be fun.”
Brian Vickers led the final round of knockout qualifying, winning the pole with a lap of 48.825 seconds at 196.129 mph. It was his 12th career Sprint Cup pole, his first of the season and his first at Talladega.
Jimmie Johnson will start on the outside of row one after clocking in at 48.924 seconds at 195.732 mph.
The 10 other drivers who made it to the final round of qualifying were A.J. Allmendinger, Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski, Michael McDowell, Travis Kvapil, Kasey Kahne, Terry Labonte, Michael Annett, Ryan Newman and Martin Truex Jr. All are listed in the order they’ll start Sunday’s race.
The Geico 500 gets underway at 2 p.m. EDT on Sunday with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with a pre-race show at 1 p.m.