Amanda Vincent, NASCAR correspondent
Allmendinger on the pole for the Showdown
NASCAR saved the best for last when it came to qualifying on Friday for Saturday's Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Kyle Busch went out last in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota and posted a time of 119.112 seconds to take the All-Star pole.
"It's just a whole team effort," Busch said. "That's what it boils down to. Going out last always helps."
Qualifying attempts for the All-Star Race were comprised of three laps with a four-tire pit stop on the second of the three laps, and the total time of all three laps and pit stop accounted for each driver's posted qualifying time.
Going out last always helps.
Ryan Newman posted the second-fastest time of 119.821 seconds in the No. 39 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet to claim the other front row starting spot. Busch's JGR teammate, Denny Hamlin in the No. 11 Toyota, qualified third with a time of 120.168 seconds.
"I thought the pit crew definitely held their own," Hamlin said. "I think I could've done a little more."
The qualifying session wasn't without incident. Kasey Kahne hit the wall hard with his No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet soon after his pit stop and was unable to finish his qualifying run. He'll be in a backup car come race time Saturday night.
Twenty drivers are already qualified for the Sprint All-Star Race by virtue of winning a race last year or up to this point in 2012 or being winners of the All-Star Race within the previous 10 years.
Greg Biffle qualified fourth in the No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford with a time of 120.420 seconds, and Kevin Harvick was fifth in the No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet with a time of 120.622 seconds.
Twenty-two drivers made traditional two-lap qualifying attempts, with the fastest lap counting, to claim their starting positions in the preliminary Sprint Showdown to race for the final spots in the All-Star Race.
The No. 22 Penske Racing Dodge of A.J. Allmendinger was the fastest of that class with a 28.057-second qualifying lap to claim the Showdown pole.
"It was a good lap," Allmendinger said. "The car was stuck to the race track, so nothing scary."
Allmendinger will be joined on the front row in the preliminary race by Martin Truex Jr. in the No. 56 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota after Truex turned the second-fastest lap time of 28.265 seconds.
"Our NAPA Toyota is really good, and we've been good on these mile-and-a-halves as of late," Truex said.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. qualified the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet third for the Sprint Showdown with a lap time of 28.272 seconds.
The top-two finishers in the Sprint Showdown will claim the 21st and 22nd starting positions in the All-Star Race. The 23rd and final spot will be claimed on the driver in the Showdown who doesn't finish in the top-two but finishes on the lead lap and has the most fan votes through a poll conducted on NASCAR.com.