News & Media


Stewart edges Biffle for pole position at Atlanta

August 31, 2012, NASCAR Wire Service, NASCAR.com

HAMPTON, Ga. -- With the Chase imminent, Tony Stewart found speed at the right time, winning the pole for Sunday's AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Covering the 1.54-mile distance in 29.787 seconds (186.121 mph), Stewart won his first Coors Light Pole Award of the season, his first at Atlanta and the 14th of his career. The 45th of 47 drivers to make a qualifying run, Stewart grabbed the top starting spot from series points leader Greg Biffle (185.648 mph), who felt he left a little speed on the race track.

Atlanta

Race Lineup
Pos.DriverSpeedTime
2. G. Biffle 185.648 29.863
3. Ky. Busch 185.492 29.888
4. M. Kenseth 185.319 29.916
5. J. Gordon 185.307 29.918

* Out Front with Miss Coors Light: Rachel and Tony

Kyle Busch, seeking to strengthening his hold on the second wild-card position in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, qualified third at 185.493 mph. Matt Kenseth (185.319 mph) will start fourth, followed by Jeff Gordon (185.307 mph) who is 16 points behind Busch for the second wild-card spot.

Stewart credited teammate Ryan Newman for his qualifying success. Newman qualified 17th but discovered grip at the top of the track and briefed Stewart on the fast way around before Stewart made his attempt.

The advice paid off.

"I'm definitely not known as a qualifier, and I know I've got to give 100 percent of the credit to Ryan Newman," said Stewart, the defending Cup champion. "He ran his second lap up there, and he made an effort to come down and help us there.

"I'm not sure, if we had run the line I was planning on running, that we would have been that fast. It's awesome to have a teammate like that. He's always thinking outside the box. If it weren't for him, we wouldn't be on the pole."

Biffle was ambivalent about his front-row starting position.

"I got down in the middle of [Turns] 1 and 2 and just hesitated to push the gas down, thought it was loose, sliding, and waited, waited and just eased it down," Biffle said. "I thought, 'Oh, man, I'm going to have to run a second lap,' to make up for it, and I came by and they told me I was on the front row with an 86 [29.863 seconds].

Notes-n-Nuggets

• Tony Stewart earned his 14th career pole, and first of 2012, in his 489th race.
• Tony Stewart's last pole came in October 2011 at Charlotte, a span of 29 starts.
• It was Tony Stewart's first Atlanta pole in his 26th start.
• Tony Stewart is the 46th different driver to win a pole at Atlanta.
• Tony Stewart is the 16th different driver to win a pole in 2012.
• Tony Stewart has two career wins from the pole.
• It is Stewart Haas Racing's 10th career pole, first at Atlanta and first of 2012.
• Stewart Haas Racing is the 40th organization to win a pole at Atlanta and eighth to win a pole in 2012.
• Chevrolet earned its 23rd Atlanta pole and seventh pole of 2012.
• Greg Biffle (second) got his third front-row start at Atlanta.
• Kyle Busch (third) earned his fourth straight top-five start at Atlanta.
• Matt Kenseth (fourth) earned his third top-five start at Atlanta in his 24th race and the first since 2006.
• Jeff Gordon (fifth) got his fourth top-five start at Atlanta in the past five races.
• Martin Truex Jr. (28th) was fastest in first practice.

"You wish you could do it over again, but it was a great lap, put us on the front row. It's just funny how things happen. ... It gives me confidence we'll have a good car for Sunday."