News & Media

Allmendinger wins Kansas pole despite late draw

April 21, 2012, NASCAR Wire Service,

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Despite a late draw on a slick track that warmed throughout Saturday's qualifying session, AJ Allmendinger claimed the pole for Sunday's STP 400 at Kansas Speedway, posting a lap at 175.993 mph (30.683 seconds).

In winning the second Coors Light pole award of his career, his first since 2010 at Phoenix and his first since joining Penske Racing this season, Allmendinger edged Kevin Harvick (175.747 mph) by .043 seconds at the 1.5-mile intermediate speedway, which will begin a facelift -- repaving and reconfiguration -- as soon as Sunday's race is over.

STP 400

2.K. Harvick175.74730.726
3.J. Logano175.72430.730
4.D. Hamlin175.66730.740
5.M. Martin175.48430.772

Joey Logano, the first driver to make a qualifying run, was third fastest at 175.724 mph but must start from the rear on Sunday because of an engine change during Friday's practice session. Denny Hamlin, Logano's teammate at Joe Gibbs Racing, claimed the fourth starting spot at 175.667 mph, with Mark Martin (175.484 mph) posting the fifth-fastest lap.

In a disappointing session for the Fords, Sprint Cup points leader Greg Biffle qualified 17th at 174.706 mph, the fastest of all the Ford drivers.

After finishing second at Martinsville to Ryan Newman in the sixth Cup race of the season, Allmendinger was gratified to continue the momentum for his No. 22 Penske Racing team.

"More than anything, I put so much pressure on my shoulders to go out there and perform," Allmendinger said. "They [his Penske team] are used to winning, running up front, getting poles. It's good just to build momentum.

"So, hopefully, we have a solid 400 miles. It's good, but we know the bigger picture's on Sunday, and I'm happy to be part of the team."

Out Front: Miss Coors Light talks with Allmendinger

Harvick knew he had a good lap going but said he might have gotten overly excited in the second set of corners.

"That might have cost us the pole, but overall it's been a great year for us qualifying-wise so far," Harvick said. "The cars have been fast every week, and as soon as we put together a whole weekend without me making a mistake or things not going exactly right, I think everything's going to come together nicely.

"So I'm pretty happy with the way everything's gone so far this year."


• AJ Allmendinger earned his second Cup Series pole in his 160th start. His previous pole was at Phoenix in April 2010 (72 starts between).
• AJ Allmendinger's previous best Kansas start was 14th in 2008.
• AJ Allmendinger became the 10th driver to capture the pole at Kansas in the track's 13 races.
• AJ Allmendinger became the seventh different pole winner in eight races in 2012.
• This was the 97th Cup pole for Penske Racing.
• Dodge became the final make to win a pole this season.
• Kevin Harvick (second) will make his first start of better than 14th in 13 starts at Kansas.
• Kevin Harvick is starting on the front row for the second time in the past three races.
• Joey Logano (third) earned his best 2012 qualifying finish and sixth top-10 start of the season, but will start at the rear after changing engines.
• Denny Hamlin (fourth) will start in the top five for the third time in the past four races.
• Mark Martin (fifth) has started in the top five in four of his past five starts.
• Martin Truex Jr. (sixth) will start in the top 10 for the third consecutive Kansas race; he's still looking for his first top-10 finish.
• Dale Earnhardt Jr. (seventh) will make his first start of better than 18th in his past four races at Kansas.

Tim Andrews, Jeff Green and Tony Raines failed to qualify for the 43-car field.