The sparks were flying during Sprint Cup qualifying Thursday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but when the smoke cleared, Martin Truex, Jr. stood alone atop the scoring pylon.
Joey Logano, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski will complete the top 5 to take the green flag for Sunday’s 57th running of the Coca-Cola 600. Greg Biffle, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards and Trevor Bayne round out the top 10 with Paul Menard and Chase Elliott the final two drivers in the top 12.
Logano set the pace in the first round, while several big names found their qualifying session over early, including Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (25th), Matt Kenseth (27th), Austin Dillon (28th) and Kasey Kahne (29th).
Logano again set the pace in the second round, going out midpack and shooting through the field to the top of the board as the Fords ruled the round, taking the first four sports with Biffle, Stenhouse and Keselowski also faster than the rest of the field. Three of the four Rookie of the Year candidates made the second round, but only Chase Elliott made the cut for the pole run, while Ryan Blaney and Chris Buescher settled for 18th and 22nd, respectively. Buescher, along with AJ Allmendinger (15th) and Casey Mears (17th), represented the small teams in the round.
In round three, Logano went out first and set the bar high with a lap of over 192 mph, but Truex made sure it didn’t last. The Furniture Row Racing driver knocked Logano out of the top spot with a top speed of 192.328 mph, and in the top spot Truex would stay. It’s Truex’s second pole of 2016 and the ninth of his career.
“I liked what I felt last year (in the Coca-Cola 600) and I’ve been thinking about this race a lot since then,” said Truex after his run. “We had a really good car that day and thought we were going to go to victory lane and got beat on fuel mileage. Just excited for all my guys and for Bass Pro Shops, Tracker Boats, Furniture Row, Denver Mattress and everybody that works so hard on this deal – Toyota Racing, TRD – just awesome race cars.
“We had to work hard today, we were not that good in practice and made a lot of changes throughout this qualifying session. Hats off to my guys for some really good work and lucky to be with this group for sure. (We’re) just continuing what we’ve been doing, we’ve been so good and we’ve really had a great season. We don’t have a lot to show for it, but we’ve got a lot of confidence and a lot of momentum and fast race cars. Hopefully we can get to victory lane here soon.”
About the author
Amy is an 20-year veteran NASCAR writer and a six-time National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) writing award winner, including first place awards for both columns and race coverage. As well as serving as Photo Editor, Amy writes The Big 6 (Mondays) after every NASCAR Cup Series race. She can also be found working on her bi-weekly columns Holding A Pretty Wheel (Tuesdays) and Only Yesterday (Wednesdays). A New Hampshire native whose heart is in North Carolina, Amy’s work credits have extended everywhere from driver Kenny Wallace’s website to Athlon Sports. She can also be heard weekly as a panelist on the Hard Left Turn podcast that can be found on AccessWDUN.com's Around the Track page.
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