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Stewart edges Biffle for pole position at Atlanta

by Pete McCole
Friday, August 31, 2012


Tony Stewart

Last week, Tony Stewart made all the highlight reels with a two-handed helmet toss aimed right at the front grill of Matt Kenseth’s Ford Fusion.

On Friday, Stewart was all smiles as he captured his first Coors Light Pole Award of the season in qualifying for Sunday’s Advocare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Stewart used some timely advice from teammate Ryan Newman to go out and post a fast lap of 186.121mph and knock series points leader Greg Biffle from the top spot. Two more drivers were left to qualify but neither could find the speed to unseat Stewart.

Biffle held on to claim the outside pole. Kyle Busch was third, followed by Matt Kenseth and Jeff Gordon.
It was the first pole of the season for Stewart and 14th of his career, and his first career pole at Atlanta. He previously started from the pole here in October of 2002 after qualifying was rained out and the starting grid was set by points.

Stewart said he owed his pole-winning run to Newman - a seven-time Atlanta pole-winner - who had qualified earlier and told his boss that the high line was the fastest line around the tricky 1.5-mile quad-oval
“That pole is 100 percent due to Ryan Newman,” said Stewart. “He walked back down there to help us before we went out and said there’s a ton of grip out there, you’ve just gotta do it. I was having a hard time convincing myself that’s what I was gonna do.”

“I’m not sure if we’d have run the line I’d planned on running we’d have been that fast. It’s awesome having a teammate like. I don’t ever remember being here and seeing anybody run up at the top like he did.”

The pole was a big boost to Stewart, who is fighting to hold onto the pivotal tenth position in points after a disappointing finish last weekend at Bristol – a finish that was the big story of the race for all the wrong reasons.

While dueling for the lead midway through last Saturday night’s race at Bristol, Stewart and Kenseth tangled which send both cars into the wall. Kenseth was able to drive away, only to get targeted by Stewart, who bounced his helmet off the front of Kenseth’s car, much to the delight of the crowd.

Addressing the media afterward, Stewart promised retaliation “every chance I’ve got”, but during the day on Friday Stewart was seen in the garage happily chatting with Kenseth.

“We’re fine,” said Stewart. “It's like we mentioned earlier in the week, we have too much to do the last 10 weeks to be worrying about each other.  It's just like we always said there are 43 people out there and they are not always going to agree on the track at the same time.  The big thing is getting it done and over with now.

“People like emotion. Every other sport gets a cool off period, every other sport you get time to calm down where our deal it's a little bit different - we don't have that.  It's not like one play is a bad play and you go to another play the bad deal for us is we are done for the day.  That is where it's different."

“That stuff is always fun to watch,” said Kenseth of the helmet toss. “I hate being involved in it.  I don’t like that part of it, but I always like watching it.  I love watching other people’s conflicts.  I mean, everybody does.  It’s human nature.  I think the fans loved the helmet toss.  I thought that was cool, too, although I wish it wasn’t being tossed at me because it meant that he was upset with me.  I don’t like that part.

“I wasn’t trying to put our cars in a bad situation.  I thought we were gonna make it through there and I thought it was gonna be alright, so I’m not sure what all went down there, but, actually, Tony and I, in general, 99 percent of the time at least, show each other probably more respect and more room on the track than probably most people have.  There have been a couple instances here and there, but I think, overall, we try to show each other a lot of respect and we usually get that back.”

Mark Martin, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano and Marcos Ambrose finished out the top ten qualifiers. Michael McDowell, Josh Wise, Stephen Leicht and Mike Bliss failed to qualify.


1 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Office Depot / Mobil 1 186.122 29.787 Leader
2 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M / Manheim Auctions 185.648 29.863 -0.076
3 18 Kyle Busch Toyota Wrigley's Doublemint 185.492 29.888 -0.101
4 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Ford EcoBoost 185.319 29.916 -0.129
5 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 185.307 29.918 -0.131
6 55 Mark Martin Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 185.232 29.930 -0.143
7 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota Sport Clips 185.220 29.932 -0.145
8 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's / Kobalt Tools 185.139 29.945 -0.158
9 20 Joey Logano Toyota The Home Depot 185.084 29.954 -0.167
10 9 Marcos Ambrose Ford DEWALT 185.053 29.959 -0.172
11 5 Kasey Kahne Chevrolet 184.997 29.968 -0.181
12 99 Carl Edwards Ford Subway 184.930 29.979 -0.192
13 43 Aric Almirola Ford AdvoCare 184.874 29.988 -0.201
14 34 David Ragan Ford Glory Foods 184.738 30.010 -0.223
15 22 Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge Shell / Pennzoil 184.609 30.031 -0.244
16 51 Kurt Busch Chevrolet 184.566 30.038 -0.251
17 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet Army Medicine 184.480 30.052 -0.265
18 27 Paul Menard Chevrolet Quaker State / Menards 184.425 30.061 -0.274
19 13 Casey Mears Ford GEICO 184.082 30.117 -0.330
20 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker Boats 184.070 30.119 -0.332
21 2 Brad Keselowski Dodge Miller Lite 184.058 30.121 -0.334
22 36 Dave Blaney Chevrolet Tommy Baldwin Racing 183.747 30.172 -0.385
23 10 Danica Patrick Chevrolet 183.673 30.184 -0.397
24 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Rheem 183.643 30.189 -0.402
25 47 Bobby Labonte Toyota Kingsford 183.509 30.211 -0.424
26 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar 183.412 30.227 -0.440
27 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row / Farm American 183.388 30.231 -0.444
28 56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota NAPA Shocks 183.370 30.234 -0.447
29 38 David Gilliland Ford House / Autry 183.364 30.235 -0.448
30 15 Clint Bowyer Toyota 5-hour Energy 183.333 30.240 -0.453
31 30 David Stremme Toyota Inception Motorsports 183.037 30.289 -0.502
32 21 Trevor Bayne Ford Good Sam Club / Camping World 182.886 30.314 -0.527
33 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Target 182.759 30.335 -0.548
34 249 Jason Leffler Toyota Robinson-Blakeney Racing 182.675 30.349 -0.562
35 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet National Guard / Diet Mountain Dew 182.627 30.357 -0.570
36 195 Scott Speed Ford Jordan Truck Sales 182.549 30.370 -0.583
37 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota AM / FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves 182.380 30.398 -0.611
38 191 Reed Sorenson Chevrolet Plinker Tactical 182.189 30.430 -0.643
39 23 Scott Riggs Chevrolet North Texas Pipe 182.141 30.438 -0.651
40 83 Landon Cassill+ Toyota Burger King 181.224 30.592 -0.805
41 93 Travis Kvapil+ Toyota Dr Pepper / Burger King 180.527 30.710 -0.923
42 32 T.J. Bell+ Ford Greensmoke 180.457 30.722 -0.935
43 37 J.J. Yeley Chevrolet 182.069 30.450 -0.663
DNQ 98 Michael McDowell Ford Phil Parsons Racing 181.777 30.499 -0.712
DNQ 26 Josh Wise* Ford MDS Transport 181.390 30.564 -0.777
DNQ 33 Stephen Leicht* Chevrolet Little Joes 181.283 30.582 -0.795
DNQ 119 Mike Bliss Toyota Plinker Tactical 180.651 30.689 -0.902

+ Set by Owner Points

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