Date: May 2, 2015
Event: Qualifying for the Geico 500 (Round 10 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway (2.66-mile oval)
Pole Winner: Jeff Gordon of Hendrick Motorsports (49.160 seconds at 194.793 mph)
SHR Lineup: Tony Stewart (6th, 49.509 seconds at 193.419 mph)
Kurt Busch (19th, 49.699 seconds at 192.680 mph)
Kevin Harvick (24th, 49.862 seconds at 192.050 mph)
Danica Patrick (25th, 49.918 seconds at 191.835 mph)
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet SS, led the four-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent Saturday at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway by setting the sixth-fastest lap in qualifying for the Geico 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday. Stewart turned a lap of 49.509 seconds at 193.419 mph on the 2.66-mile oval in the final round of knockout qualifying.
“I’m proud of Chad (Johnston, crew chief) and really proud of our guys in our fab shop,” said Stewart, who won at Talladega in October of 2008. “You kind of wish – this is the event where you wish those guys could all be here because it really shows the fruit of their labor more than it does what we do here at the track. The work that takes place before you get to the shop shows up when you get here.”
Qualifying consisted of two rounds of single-car qualifying, with drivers getting one timed green-flag lap per round. The fastest 12 drivers from the first round advanced to the final round of qualifying where they battled for the pole. Positions 1-12 were set by speeds in the final round, while the remaining 43-car field was set by speeds posted by those who did not advance past the first round.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 19th with a time of 49.699 seconds at 192.680 mph.
“Myself and Tony Gibson (crew chief) felt like we lacked a little bit of speed in single-car runs,” said Busch, who has six top-five finishes in 28 Sprint Cup starts at Talladega. “But our Haas Automation Chevrolet is pretty fast in race trim. I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I feel like we’ve got a fast racecar.”
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 24th with a time of 49.862 seconds at 192.050 mph.
“Our starting position won’t be very good,” said Harvick, who won at Talladega in May of 2010. “But I feel good about where our car is in the draft. That is the main thing.”
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 25th with a time of 49.918 seconds at 191.835 mph.
“I thought we were going to be a bit faster than that today, based on yesterday’s practice runs,” said Patrick, who will make her fifth Sprint Cup start at Talladega Sunday afternoon. “But, here of all places, where you start doesn’t matter nearly as much. Overall, I think we have a good GoDaddy Chevrolet for the race and that’s what counts.”
Jeff Gordon led the final round of knockout qualifying by taking the pole with a lap of 49.160 seconds at 194.793 mph. It was his 80th career Sprint Cup pole, his third of the season and his fourth at Talladega.
Kasey Kahne will start on the outside of row one after clocking in at 49.441 seconds at 193.685 mph.
The 10 other drivers who made it to the final round of qualifying were Ryan Blaney, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson , Stewart, Paul Menard, Matt Kenseth, David Ragan, Clint Bowyer, Casey Mears and Sam Hornish Jr. All are listed in the order they will start Sunday’s race.