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Ambrose sets track record on way to pole

June 16, 2012, NASCAR Wire Service, NASCAR.com

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Australian Marcos Ambrose has a new distinction -- he's the fastest thing in a Sprint Cup car in 25 years

With a record-setting run Saturday at Michigan International Speedway, Ambrose won the pole for Sunday's Quicken Loans 400, leading 18 other drivers who broke the 200-mph barrier and 38 others who topped Ryan Newman's previous track record of 194.232 mph, set in 2005.

Michigan

Lineup
Pos.DriverSpeedTime
2.K. Harvick202.03735.637
3.G. Biffle201.81635.676
4.K. Kahne201.72035.693
5.R. Newman201.47235.737

Ambrose claimed the first Coors Light pole award of his career with a lap at 203.241 mph (35.426 seconds), beating second-place qualifier Kevin Harvick (202.037 mph) by 0.211 seconds. But Ambrose didn't have long to enjoy it.

Video: Out Front with Miss Coors Light

Because of tire blistering at high speeds during testing and practice on Thursday and Friday, Goodyear had mandated change to a harder left-side tire after qualifying. Cup teams were set to practice on the new tires late Saturday afternoon.

Greg Biffle, whose top practice speed on Friday was a series-best 204.708 mph, qualified third at 201.816 mph. Kasey Kahne (201.720 mph) and Newman (201.472 mph) completed the top five. Series leader Matt Kenseth will start sixth after a lap at 201.461 mph.

Ambrose's lap was the fastest run in the series since Bill Elliott posted 203.827 mph at Talladega in 1987, the last year the series ran at Daytona and Talladega without restrictor plates. It was the fastest lap at a speedway other and Daytona and Talladega and the 11th fastest in series history.

Ambrose is the fourth driver to win a pole at a speed in excess of 200 mph, joining Benny Parsons, Cale Yarborough and Elliott.

"It is a good bragging right, I'll give it that," Ambrose said. "I'm just really excited to get the speed, and to claim to be the fastest guy out there is just awesome. We've missed some poles -- this is my first pole in Sprint Cup. We've missed some by thousandths of a second and conditions changing, so it's good that we actually got one to stick, and one that's got so many records attached to it.

"It felt that fast to me, too. It felt like I was getting it done. Really fun times out there. When you get onto the frontstretch, and you gain about 100 RPM in a mile, you know that you got everything you could out of the corner. We were wide open for about 98 percent of the lap, and I felt very good about how we got the car dialed in to do that."

Notes-n-Nuggets

• Marcos Ambrose got his first Sprint Cup pole in his 134th start. His previous best was second (three times).
• Ambrose is the second driver to get his first Cup pole in 2012, joining teammate Aric Almirola.
• Ambrose is the seventh driver to get his first Cup pole at Michigan.
• He is the fourth foreign-born driver to win a Cup pole.
• The pole-winning time of 35.426 seconds (203.241 mph) set a new track record; the old record of 37.069 seconds (194.232 mph) was set by Ryan Newman in June 2005.
• There have been 823 races between 200-plus-mph poles; the last was by Bill Elliott in July 1987 at Talladega.
• Ambrose is only the fourth driver to win a pole over 200 mph.
• It is the fourth track record set in 2012 (Las Vegas, Dover, Pocono and Michigan).
• Richard Petty Motorsports earned its seventh Cup pole and second pole of 2012. RPM has won the pole for two of the past four races.
• Ford got its fifth pole of 2012 and 23rd Cup pole at Michigan, tying Chevrolet for the most.
• Kevin Harvick (second) earned his second front-row start of 2012 and matched his best Michigan start.
• Greg Biffle (third) got his fourth straight top-10 start at Michigan.
• Kasey Kahne (fourth) has started in the top 10 for six of the past seven Michigan races.
• Ryan Newman (fifth) earned only his second top-five start at Michigan in the past 10 races.
• Trevor Bayne (seventh) qualified for his best Michigan start in his third race.
• Carl Edwards (45th) had an engine problem and did not complete a lap.
• Nineteen drivers went over 200 mph and 40 broke the old track record, including David Stremme, who failed to make the race.

Notes: Dale Earnhardt Jr., second in the standings, will start 17th. ... David Stremme and Stacy Compton failed to make the 43-car field.

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