Ricky Stenhouse claimed his first-career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole on Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway with a 29.227-second lap from behind the wheel of his No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford during qualifying for Sunday's Advocare 500. Roush Fenway Racing swept the front row in qualifying, with the No. 99 RFR Ford of Carl Edwards qualifying second. The No. 42 Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet of Juan Montoya qualified third.
"Great start to the weekend," Stenhouse said. "Now we've just got to finish it off."
After running a high line during his qualifying attempt, Edwards held the provisional pole until he was knocked from the top spot by his teammate. Stenhouse ran the low line on the advice of car owner Jack Roush.
“I got through one and two really, really good, and knew I just had to maintain through three and four and not miss the bottom and we were able to do that,” said Stenhouse.
Edwards added, "Jack comes up to the car and tells me to do something, now I've got to do it,"
The No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Kyle Busch went out early in the session and claimed the provisional pole spot. But Busch knew that going out so early would be a disadvantage and his time wouldn't hold up. In the end, Busch qualified ninth.
"I hate we got such a bad draw," Busch said. "But it is what it is."
He wound up losing the provisional pole to teammate Denny Hamlin in the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. After losing the provisional pole to Edwards, Hamlin dropped down to fourth by the end of qualifying, despite racing with a sprained thumb.
At one time during the qualifying session, Joe Gibbs Racing held the top-three provisional starting spots, with Hamlin on the pole, the No. 20 JGR Toyota of Matt Kenseth in second and Busch in third. But the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Jeff Gordon crashed the Joe Gibbs Racing party when he claimed the provisional second spot. He wound up fifth at the end of qualifying, with Kenseth sixth.
Despite a broken wrist, Martin Truex Jr. drove the No. 56 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota to a seventh-place starting spot. The No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Dale Earnhardt Jr. qualified eighth and the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top-10.
"There's nothing like taking a line in qualifying you didn't run in practice," Johnson said. "I'm happy to be where we're at."