Brian Vickers took the Coors Light Pole Award for Sunday’s Geico 500 at the Talladega Superspeedway in what could be described as one of the weirdest qualifying sessions ever seen for a NASCAR Sprint Cup race. “It’s crazy,” Vickers said after the third and final segment was completed.
“I thought that coming to three (laps) to go that we had literally no shot. We were way back — like a half a straightaway behind the whole field and they all checked up and gave me a chance and gave me a run. I really get no credit for it. I just tried not to wreck.”
With the first session being split into two five minute sessions of 23 drivers, each driver waited until the last minutes to take to the track. No one really wanted to be the person leading the pack since they’re usually the slowest car on the track. Denny Hamlin was the first one to go out and no one followed.
“It’s kind of a dumb format”, Hamlin said after qualifying 38th, “but what can you do? I guess it’s supposed to be entertaining, but I don’t know. We just wanted to get a lap in and the object of this is to make sure we start the race with the same car we practiced.”
When the second group of 23 went out it seemed like they’d have one more lap of running at speed when they suddenly slowed down and many drivers in the Chase failed to get to the line before time expired, therefore their last lap did not count. Times for Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick , Jeff Gordon, Kyle Larson and others were not counted.
Harvick, who already qualified for the next round of the Chase and qualified 39th said, “This qualifying is the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. It just doesn’t work on the speedways. They all made a plan and told me to be the lead guy. I took off and no one took off with me. Then we all sat around and here we are. You have to be at the back, but all in all they told me to be the point person and nobody followed me. So appreciate everybody’s help.”
Jeff Gordon qualified 43rd and said, “I messed up ultimately. I just mistimed getting to the line. The whole group was going so slow I knew I had to have a gap and when I came across the line I thought I had enough to be able to complete that lap and get one more, which was the only way we were going to be able to make it. But we came up short. It’s a mess out there. It’s not easy.”
Defending Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson who qualified second said, “Having to really come through and work out for you is just the toughest thing, because 20 some guys and a lady have an idea of what is going to work and timing that right and finding what works for you is impossible. Not impossible, just the odds very low. Hopefully it is entertaining. You don’t really feel like you are doing your part as a race car driver in a qualifying session like this, but it is plate racing and if it’s entertaining I guess I’m okay with it.”
A.J. Allmendinger, Ryan Blaney and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top five. There were some surprises in the top ten that saw Michael McDowell and Travis Kvapil lining up sixth and seventh. Chase contender Kasey Kahne was eighth. Terry Labonte and Michael Annett rounded out the top ten.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Justin Allgair and Reed Sorenson were the cars that were initially listed as “Did Not Qualify” but Sorenson was reinstated when it was found that the No. 87 car had an improperly sealed oil tank and was disqualified.
GEICO 500 Lineup
- (55) Brian Vickers, Toyota, 196.129.
- (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 195.732.
- (47) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 195.496.
- (12) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 194.015.
- (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 194.007.
- (95) Michael McDowell, Ford, 193.693.
- (33) Travis Kvapil, Chevrolet, 193.603.
- (5) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 193.498.
- (32) Terry Labonte, Ford, 193.431.
- (7) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 193.162.
- (31) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 191.302.
- (78) Martin Truex Jr., Chevrolet, 190.981.
- (20) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 193.415.
- (23) Alex Bowman, Toyota, 193.376.
- (99) Carl Edwards, Ford, 193.291.
- (21) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 192.401.
- (43) Aric Almirola, Ford, 192.278.
- (41) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 192.096.
- (13) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 191.908.
- (27) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 191.773.
- (38) David Gilliland, Ford, 190.985.
- (26) Cole Whitt, Toyota, 190.97.
- (49) Mike Wallace, Toyota, 184.729.
- (16) Greg Biffle, Ford, 191.577.
- (34) David Ragan, Ford, 191.42.
- (9) Marcos Ambrose, Ford, 191.214.
- (10) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 191.149.
- (88) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 191.134.
- (40) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 191.13.
- (3) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 191.027.
- (1) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 190.818.
- (83) J.J. Yeley, Toyota, 190.689.
- (15) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, 190.681.
- (66) Michael Waltrip, Toyota, 190.586.
- (98) Josh Wise, Ford, 190.507.
- (36) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 189.305.
- (14) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, Owner Points.
- (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, Owner Points.
- (4) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, Owner Points.
- (22) Joey Logano, Ford, Owner Points.
- (18) Kyle Busch, Toyota, Owner Points.
- (42) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, Owner Points.
- (24) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, Owner Points.