Brian Vickers and Jimmie Johnson will lead the field to the green flag tomorrow.
Brian Vickers posted a lap time of 48.825 seconds (196.129 mph) on Saturday during the third and final round of qualifying for Sunday's Geico 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway. It's his 12th-career pole and his first pole since August of 2009.
"This Aaron's Dream Machine was good," Vickers said. "It was really strategy."
Vickers will share the front row with Jimmie Johnson. A.J. Allmendinger and Ryan Blaney will start in row two, while Brad Keselowski starts fifth. Aside from the top-five starters, other drivers advancing to the final round and claiming spots sixth through 12 on the starting grid are Michael McDowell, Travis Kvapil, Kasey Kahne, Terry Labonte, Michael Annett, Ryan Newman and Martin Truex Jr.
New qualifying format
NASCAR modified its qualifying format for superspeedway racing, with the modifications debuting on Saturday. Entrants were divided into two groups for the first round, with 23 cars in each group. Each group had five minutes to post lap times and the 24 fastest drivers from both groups, combined, advanced to round two.
With drivers waiting until the last possible minute to make laps, several drivers in the back of a large pack failed to cross the start/finish line before the red and black flags waved, so their final lap didn't count.
"It was crazy trying to figure out when to go and where to be," Vickers said.
Surprises miss the race
After the confusion, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Justin Allgaier and Reed Sorenson failed to make the race and Tony Stewart had to rely on the past champion's provisional to get a spot on the starting grid for Sunday's race. After qualifying, Joe Nemechek's car failed inspection, pushing Sorenson back into the field.
Paul Menard, who went out in the first group, was the fastest overall, in the first round. In round two, Travis Kvapil posted the fastest lap time.