Friday, April 16, 2010

Tony Stewart Earns Long Overdue Pole Position at Texas

Photo Credit: NASCAR Media

Departing a three-race stretch which kept the NASCAR Sprint Cup season limited to tracks 1 mile and under, the stock car circuit enters the Lone Star state to compete on the ultra-fast Texas Motor Speedway.

Prepping for the Samsung Mobile 500, the Sprint Cup tour returns to the track which last season gave a slim chance for someone other than Jimmie Johnson to win the 2009 Sprint Cup championship. Now 2010, some NASCAR fans will probably be relishing a prospect that the 1.5 mile Texas Motor Speedway could curb Johnson and the #48 Chevrolet who has already enjoyed 3 wins in 7 races. Of course, providing competition for Johnson and Hendrick so far in this young 2010 season is the Penske Racing Dodge of Kurt Busch as well as the #17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford driven by Matt Kenseth.

With speeds averaging over 190 miles per hour guaranteed through qualifying, teams have been eagerly awaited the Texas race weekend as the true test for the rear spoiler configuration with the current spec Sprint Cup car. Whether stability and control will indeed improve racing will be demonstrated in Sunday's Samsung Mobile 500. However, Friday qualifying for the major NASCAR Sprint Cup event concentrates efforts for only 1 or a possible 2 lap run.

Triumphing in securing the top spot for the Samsung Mobile 500, the #14 Office Depot Chevrolet of Tony Stewart ran a top average speed of 191.327 miles per hour. Recorded as his first Sprint Cup series pole since the fall race at Martinsville in 2005, Stewart's last time starting 1st for a race occurred in a run to his 2nd NASCAR Cup Series championship. Comparing the 2010 qualifying effort to the fall of 2009 on the race track, the time was just 3/100ths of a second faster with the deck lid spoiler compared to a wing mount.

Starting beside the #14 Chevrolet of Stewart, Sam Hornish Jr #12 Dodge mustered a strong run in qualifying to secure the front row spot. While the presence of #12 Penske Racing Dodge in a front row starting position isn't a mainstay, it's interesting to note that Sam Hornish Jr has habitually found consistent qualifying speed at Texas Motor Speedway. Texas is tied for 2nd in his Sprint Cup career for average qualifying attempts.

Rounding out the top 5 for the Samsung Mobile 500 is the cars of Greg Biffle, Jimmie Johnson and this week's most talked about driver Kasey Kahne. A highlight from the NASCAR newswire has been the announcement that Kahne would be joining the mighty Hendrick Motorsports team in 2012. Determined to make the most from the majority of the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule still yet to be run, Kahne's devotion is invested in the #9 Dodge of Richard Petty Motorsports.

Kyle Busch in the #18 Joe Gibbs Racing car is the highest qualifying Toyota for Sunday's race. Since the Toyota entered Sprint Cup racing in 2007, the Japanese auto company has yet to find victory lane at Texas Motor Speedway.

Amongst other notable drivers, Dale Earnhardt Jr will start 9th, Texas winner from last fall Kurt Busch starts 11th, Jeff Gordon anchors in 12th and 2nd place in Sprint Cup driver points Matt Kenseth will start deep in 28th place.

Samsung Mobile 500 Qualifying
2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup
Texas Motor Speedway

Top 10
1) 14 Tony Stewart        Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet
2) 77 Sam Hornish Jr. Mobil 1 Dodge
3) 16 Greg Biffle 3M Post-it Ford
4) 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet
5) 9 Kasey Kahne Budweiser Ford
6) 31 Jeff Burton Caterpillar Chevrolet
7) 18 Kyle Busch Interstate Batteries Toyota
8) 33 Clint Bowyer Cheerios/Hamburer Helper Chevrolet
9) 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet
10) 39 Ryan Newman U.S. ARMY ROTC Chevrolet

Other Notables

11) 2 Kurt Busch Miller Lite Dodge
12) 24 Jeff Gordon DuPont/National Guard Special Forces
15) 1 Jamie McMurray Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet
17) 43 A J Allmendinger Insignia/Best Buy Ford
18) 20 Joey Logano Home Depot Toyota
19) 29 Kevin Harvick Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet
20) 99 Carl Edwards Scotts Ford
21) 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Target Chevrolet
27) 13 Max Papis GEICO Toyota
28) 17 Matt Kenseth Crown Royal Black Ford
29) 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Ground Toyota
30) 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet
42) 83 Brian Vickers Red Bull Toyota
43) 32 Reed Sorenson Dollar General Stores Toyota

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