McDowell wins Nationwide pole at Mid-Ohio
August 17, 2013, Staff report, NASCAR.com
LEXINGTON, Ohio -- Michael McDowell surged to the pole position for Saturday afternoon’s inaugural NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, turning a lap of 96.256 mph in Saturday morning qualifying.
McDowell, making just his fifth Nationwide start of the year, secured the second Coors Light Pole Award of his career in the Nationwide Series. It was his first pole since June 25, 2011, when he was the fastest qualifier at Road America. He’ll start first in the Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200 (2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN), driving the No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing.
AJ Allmendinger, a winner at Road America in his only other Nationwide start this season, will take the green flag second in the No. 22 Ford for Penske Racing after turning a lap of 96.243 mph around the 13-turn, 2.258-mile road course. Owen Kelly, Kyle Larson and Nelson Piquet Jr. completed the top five.
Series points leader Austin Dillon and Marcos Ambrose will start at the rear of the 40-car field after missing qualifying. Both drivers were at Michigan International Speedway in the final two morning practices for Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 (Sunday at 1 p.m. ET, ESPN) for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Jason Bowles qualified the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet with the 11th-fastest time for Dillon, who is substituting for the injured Tony Stewart in the No. 14 Chevy at Michigan. Ryan Truex qualified the No. 9 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford forAmbrose, setting the 19th-fastest time.
As is customary on road courses for NASCAR’s three national series, drivers took to the track in groups from slowest to fastest based on a combination of lap times in Friday’s two practice sessions. The field was divided into eight groups of either five or six cars for qualifying.
TJ Bell, Dexter Stacey and Tim Cowen failed to qualify. Cowen nosed his No. 86 Ford into the Turn 9 barrier during Friday’s final practice and the team was unable to repair the car in time for Saturday morning’s qualifying.
NASCAR officials notified teams before Saturday’s qualifying that their over-the-wall crewmembers would be allowed to lean on the pit wall instead of crouching before pit stops. The change is designed to allow crewmembers to better clear Mid-Ohio’s metal pit wall, which measures almost a foot taller than the concrete pit wall at other NASCAR tracks.