Allmendinger wins Coors Light Pole at Road America
June 22, 2013, Staff report, NASCAR.com
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. -- AJ Allmendinger, brought in by Penske Racing specifically for Saturday’s race at Road America, won his first Coors Light Pole in the NASCAR Nationwide Series during qualifying held hours in advance of the Johnsonville Sausage 200 presented by Menards (5 p.m. ET, ESPN).
Allmendinger turned in a best time of 2 minutes, 13.410 seconds (109.233 mph) during the first road course qualifying procedure of the year. Driving the No. 22 Ford, Allmendinger also ended Austin Dillon’s record run of Coors Light poles. Dillon had won the pole at the previous four races, resulting in one top-five and two top-10s during that stretch. Driving the No. 3 Chevrolet, Dillon qualified 14th Saturday.
It was the first time this year competitors in the Nationwide Series qualified on a road course, which grouped the 40 drivers into five groups of eight. Each group qualified together, receiving seven minutes of track time.
The fastest lap time for each driver was used to set the lineup, regardless of which group the driver was in. The groups were divvied up based on Friday’s practice speeds; so the eight fastest drivers from the second practice session, for example, were in one group and went last.
Allmendinger, who was on the final group, has eight career Nationwide Series starts, none since 2008.
Behind the No. 22 Ford was another “road-course ringer” in Owen Kelly, who led the second practice session on Friday. Kelly turned a best lap of 2:13.641 (109.044 mph) while driving the No. 54 Toyota for Joe GibbsRacing.
Rounding out the top five were Parker Kligerman (2:13.761, 108.947 mph), Justin Allgaier (2:13.910, 108.825) and Michael McDowell (2:14.006, 108.747 mph).
Allgaier is one of just six drivers to be on the grid for all four Nationwide Series race at Road America, and McDowell was second in the event here last year.
Defending race winner Nelson Piquet Jr. qualified sixth with a time of 2:14.242 (108.556 mph). His qualifying record of 109.516 mph, set in 2012, held up.
Also in the top 10 on the grid are seventh-place Billy Johnson (2:14.308, 108.503 mph), followed by Sam Hornish Jr. (2:14.348, 108.471), Brian Vickers (2:14.348, 108.471) and Max Papis (2:14.664, 108.216).
Elliott Sadler’s difficult weekend at Road America continued. Sadler didn’t complete one lap during either practice session Friday due to an engine malfunction, so he was in the first group to qualify Saturday.
Sadler had the fastest time in his group at 2:17.029 (106.348 mph), but his engine blew up for the second time in as many days on his final run. He held the pole through the first two groups and his time put him in 22nd position on the grid, but he will have to go to the back after another engine change.
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