DARLINGTON, S.C. – Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was only the ninth-fastest driver during the practice session for the Nationwide cars at Darlington, but when the money was on the line for the fast lap he shot to the top of the scoring pylon and fended off the next eight drivers who attempted to assail his position. Stenhouse turned a 28.336-second lap for a speed of 173.546 mph, the only driver to break into the 173-mph bracket.
Denny Hamlin will start on the outside of the front row after clocking a lap at 28.461 seconds for a speed of 172.784 mph. On the inside of the second row will be Austin Dillon, who qualified for his first race at Darlington with a lap of 28.483 seconds at a speed of 172.650 mph. To Dillon’s outside will be Kurt Busch, who posted a lap of 28.528 seconds which works out to a speed of 172.378 mph.
Joey Logano rounded out the top-five speeds with a 28.532-second lap at 172.354 mph. Elliott Sadler, who is currently second in points to Stenhouse, will start outside row three with a qualifying lap of 28.604 seconds at 171.920 mph.
This is Stenhouse’s fifth pole of his 82-race Nationwide career. It is his first pole-qualifying effort of 2012. Stenhouse has run three races at Darlington and this is his first pole position. His previous best start was eighth in 2011. Dillon was the fastest rookie and has also qualified in the top 10 in all nine races this season.
About the author
What is it that Mike Neff doesn’t do? The writer, radio contributor and racetrack announcer coordinates the site’s local short track coverage, hitting up Saturday Night Specials across the country while tracking the sport’s future racing stars. The writer for our signature Cup post-race column, Thinkin’ Out Loud (Mondays) also sits down with Cup crew chiefs to talk shop every Friday with Tech Talk. Mike announces several shows each year for the Good Guys Rod and Custom Association. He also pops up everywhere from PRN Pit Reporters and the Press Box with Alan Smothers to SIRIUS XM Radio. He has announced at tracks all over the Southeast, starting at Millbridge Speedway. He's also announced at East Lincoln Speedway, Concord Speedway, Tri-County Speedway, Caraway Speedway, and Charlotte Motor Speedway.
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