Greg Biffle in the No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford grabbed his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole of the year and he did it at Darlington. With a 27.405 (179.442 mph), he also set the new track record. forty-one of the 44 drivers who put in a...
Greg Biffle in the No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford grabbed his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole of the year and he did it at Darlington. With a 27.405 (179.442 mph), he also set the new track record. forty-one of the 44 drivers who put in a timed lap beat the old mark (173.797 mph) set by Ward Burton back in 1996, but Biffle was by far the fastest. Biffle, who won back to back races at Darlington in 2005 and 2006, put down a lap that was good enough for his fifth career pole.
"It's the same old Darlington," said Biffle. "It will bite you if you let your guard down." Biffle also gave a clue into what we might see during the Saturday night race, "when the green flag flies tomorrow night, that will be the first time these cars have gone around side-by-side 10 or 20 deep, so track position is going to be really important."
It looks to be another strong start for Biffle who currently sits ninth in the driver standings.
Qualifying in second place is the No. 88 Chevy of Dale Earnhardt Jr. with a 27.417 (179.357 mph). Earnhardt was only 0.013 seconds off of Biffle and is eager to get another chance at victory lane after the incident with Kyle Busch at Richmond during the closing laps last week.
"Hopefully, we'll have some luck tomorrow night," said Earnhardt Jr. "I know we've got a good enough car to get a win. It's going to be a tough race. We're going to have to run really hard all night, and the track's going to get faster as it cools down. So you just have to have a lot of nerve, because you're going to have to run a lot of hard, fast laps the whole race."
Earnhardt Jr still sits third in the driver standings and has an average finish of 15th at Darlington although he looks to improve that this week. His best finish was a fourth back in 2002 and in his 13 visits to Darlington, he has only one DNF.
Earnhardt Jr now drives for Hendrick Motorsports and has had good runs with his new ride. He commented on the new surface on the track that is 'too tough to tame': "I think it's fun to try new stuff every time you get to go to a brand new race track. You always look forward to it. The track itself isn't brand new, but the new surface they did a great job on it. And it's pretty fun."
Starting third will be the No. 48 Chevy of Jimmie Johnson with a 27.441 (179.206 mph). Johnson has had a rough weekend after already being involved in two incidents during practice. The back-to-back reigning Cup champion said, "I'm just glad I didn't hit anything on that last outing.
"I'm just happy to be out here with a top-five starting position, because I think it's going to be important to start up front," he added. Johnson is one of the strongest drivers statistically at Darlington with two wins, five top-five's, and eight top-10's in only 10 starts at the track.
Starting fourth is the No. 20 Toyota of Tony Stewart with a 27.461 (179.076 mph). Darlington is also one of only four tracks that Stewart hasn't won at in a Cup race. Stewart also only has two top-five's at Darlington in 15 starts and his best finish is a fourth place (twice).
Rounding out in fifth is the No. 2 of Kurt Busch in his Dodge with a 27.478 (178.965 mph). Busch is currently 24th in the driver standings and has really been struggling this year at Penske. His teammate Ryan Newman currently is 11th in driver standings. Busch only has one top-five this year and only one top-10. Things might not get better this week either as his average finish at Darlington is 18.1 and he has only scored one top-five here in 11 starts.
The parody of manufactures showed some signs of becoming even here as all four manufactures were accounted for in the top-five starting positions.
Current point standings leader Kyle 'Mr. Popular' Busch in the No. 18 Toyota will be starting sixth with a 27.502 (178.809 mph) Saturday night and Elliott Sadler in the No. 19 Dodge rolls off seventh with a 27.607 (178.129 mph).
No. 24 Jeff Gordon starts eighth, No. 66 Scott Riggs ninth, and No. 43 Bobby Labonte will start tenth.
Dave Blaney in the No. 22 Toyota was the fastest cars that had to qualify in on time and will start 13th with a 27.735 (177.307 mph).
The No. 01 Chevy of Regan Smith was the fastest qualifying rookie with a 27.766 (177.109 mph) and will start 16th.
Joe Nemecheck and the No. 78 Chevy team qualified in on time again and will start 17th.
Michael McDowell in the No. 00 Toyota earned his best career starting position in 18th.
Bill Elliott got the No. 21 Ford in on time and will start 20th.
Only two cars had to go home this week and it was the No. 70 of Johnny Sauter with the No. 34 of Jeff Green.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series takes to the the newly repaved Darlington surface Saturday night.