Race Weekend Central

Aric Almirola Wins Pole for 2012 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte

CONCORD, N.C. – Marcos Ambrose was fastest in practice for the Sprint Cup cars while his teammate Aric Almirola was sixth fastest. When it came time for qualifying, Almirola went on the track five cars before Ambrose and ripped a 27.988-second lap at 192.940 mph. He was the only driver to eclipse the 28-second level.

None of the cars between Almirola and Ambrose was able to beat the time that Almirola laid down. Ambrose was the last car on the track and when he came past the start finish line to complete his timed lap the stopwatch said 28.184 seconds, which was a speed of 191.958 mph.

While that didn’t claim the pole, it did secure the front row for Richard Petty Motorsports. Locking down the third spot was Jimmie Johnson, the winner of last week’s All-Star event. Johnson stopped the clock at 28.217 seconds for a speed of 191.374 mph. Greg Biffle and Clint Bowyer round out the top five.

“It’s been a huge honor for me from day one to come to this organization, not just to drive at Richard Petty Motorsports but to drive the No. 43 car, probably the most iconic car in the history of our sport,” Almirola said. “For him to allow me to do that is really special. It’s a huge honor to be able to put that No. 43 car back on top of the board. I know it’s qualifying and we want to be able to do this after the race, but its a start.”

Ambrose wasn’t at all disappointed about being surpassed by his teammate.

“We’re a two-car team here trying to take it to the big super teams,” Ambrose said. “It’s a great night for us. We’ll take a front row. If you’re going to get beat by anyone I guess you want to be beaten by your teammate. It’s a proud day for us.”

This is Almirola’s first pole in his 47th career Cup start. Ambrose’s top-10 start is his first in seven races at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Josh Wise was the fastest rookie in qualifying and will start in 33rd. The No. 43 has won 122 Cup series poles, 114 of them were piloted by Richard Petty. The last time the No. 43 was on the pole for the 600 was 1966.

2012 COCA-COLA 600 QUALIFYING SPEEDS

About the author

Frontstretch.com

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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