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Kahne earns third pole of '12 for 'Dega Chase race

NASCAR Sprint Cup
Saturday, October 06, 2012

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Kasey Kahne
A move to Hendrick Motorsports equipment has made all the difference in the world where Kasey Kahne and Talladega are concerned.

In his second trip to Talladega Superspeedway in the No. 5 Chevrolet, Kahne scored his first pole at the 2.66-mile restrictor-plate track. That followed a previous best starting position of fifth for Talladega's event this past spring.

In Saturday's time trials, Kahne toured Talladega in 50.017 seconds (191.455 mph) to edge Ryan Newman (191.145 mph) for the top starting spot in Sunday's Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500 by 0.081 seconds. The Coors Light Pole Award was Kahne's third of the season and the 25th of his career.

Clint Bowyer (191.119 mph) qualified third, followed by defending Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart (190.993 mph) and Greg Biffle (190.955 mph), as Chase for the Sprint Cup drivers claimed four of the top five starting positions (the exception being Newman).

"They [Hendrick] just put a big emphasis on these types of tracks and this type of racing," said Kahne, who is tied for fifth in the Cup standings, 32 points behind leader Brad Keselowski. "I've never been anywhere before where they do that.

"As far as the engine goes, the body, the car -- everything they can work on they do. That makes all of our cars look really good when it comes to qualifying. ... With all the emphasis that they put on this track, it feels really good to drive that car."

As Kahne well knows, a good starting spot at Talladega doesn't guarantee a strong finish.

"It means I'm going to start first -- that's it," Kahne said. "I'll try to lead the first lap and get that extra bonus point [for leading a lap]. If we're up there, we might as well try to stay there and lead the most laps and get another point.

"I think we really need to race, and race hard. We're a long way back right now. If we can't make points up at a track like this, we're probably not going to make those points up."

Keselowski will start 22nd in the No. 2 Dodge, with five-time champion Jimmie Johnson, currently second in the standings, taking the green flag in 17th.

Keselowski didn't appear particularly concerned about his mid-pack starting spot.

"I think we've proven that the only lap that matters is the last one," said Keselowski, who won the May 6 race at Talladega. We have a good [car]. You have to stay out of trouble, be solid on pit road and put yourself in position to make a run at the end. We'll see how it plays out."

Newman said he ran only five laps of practice in two sessions combined on Friday and didn't know what to expect during qualifying. Bowyer, on the other hand, was stunned by his third-place effort, a performance that will change his strategy for the fourth race in the Chase.

"I am blown-away shocked that we're in the top three," said Bowyer, who is fourth in the series standings, 25 points behind Keselowski. "Very, very proud of [crew chief Brian] Pattie and everybody on our [team].

"We haven't been qualifying very good on these restrictor-plate tracks, and today it caught me off guard. My whole plan for the weekend. ... I kind of figured we were going to qualify poorly and ride around in the back. We're in the front. I'm going to try to stay there."

Other Chase drivers qualified as follows: Jeff Gordon, sixth; Martin Truex Jr., ninth; Dale Earnhardt Jr., 12th; Matt Kenseth, 15th; Kevin Harvick, 21st; and Denny Hamlin 23rd.

Lineup

POS CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR SPEED TIME BEHIND
1 5 Kasey Kahne Chevrolet HendrickCars.com 191.455 50.017 Leader
2 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet U.S. Army 191.145 50.098 -0.081
3 15 Clint Bowyer Toyota 5-Hour Energy Benefiting Avon Foundation for Women 191.119 50.105 -0.088
4 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Mobil 1 / Office Depot 190.993 50.138 -0.121
5 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M / National Breast Cancer Foundation 190.955 50.148 -0.131
6 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet Drive to End Hunger 190.848 50.176 -0.159
7 99 Carl Edwards Ford Subway 190.784 50.193 -0.176
8 21 Trevor Bayne Ford Motorcraft / Quick Lane / Warriors in Pink 190.727 50.208 -0.191
9 56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota NAPA Auto Parts 190.662 50.225 -0.208
10 22 Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge SKF 190.628 50.234 -0.217
11 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota Charlie Loudermilk Aaron's Dream Machine 190.465 50.277 -0.260
12 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet Diet Mountain Dew "Paint the 88" / National Guard 190.427 50.287 -0.270
13 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's 190.419 50.289 -0.272
14 20 Joey Logano Toyota The Home Depot 190.393 50.296 -0.279
15 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Ford Ecoboost / National Breast Cancer Foundation 190.370 50.302 -0.285
16 27 Paul Menard Chevrolet CertainTeed Insulation / Menards 190.332 50.312 -0.295
17 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 190.298 50.321 -0.304
18 43 Aric Almirola Ford Gwaltney 190.298 50.321 -0.304
19 13 Casey Mears Ford GEICO 190.177 50.353 -0.336
20 9 Marcos Ambrose Ford Dewalt 190.170 50.355 -0.338
21 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Budweiser 190.113 50.370 -0.353
22 2 Brad Keselowski Dodge Miller Lite 189.778 50.459 -0.442
23 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Freight 189.748 50.467 -0.450
24 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Allstate 189.740 50.469 -0.452
25 34 David Ragan Ford MHP / 8 Hour Alert 189.616 50.502 -0.485
26 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar /DriveCat.com 189.552 50.519 -0.502
27 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Target / Gillette 189.380 50.565 -0.548
28 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row / Farm American 189.316 50.582 -0.565
29 51 Kurt Busch Chevrolet Phoenix Construction 189.025 50.660 -0.643
30 30 David Stremme Toyota SwanEnergyInc.com 188.947 50.681 -0.664
31 32 Terry Labonte Ford C&J Energy Services 188.794 50.722 -0.705
32 38 David Gilliland Ford Peanut Patch Boiled Peanuts / Margaret Holmes 188.727 50.740 -0.723
33 26 Josh Wise* Ford MDS Transport 188.649 50.761 -0.744
34 98 Michael McDowell Ford K-Love / Curb Records 188.638 50.764 -0.747
35 97 Timmy Hill Toyota AM / FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves 188.326 50.848 -0.831
36 93 Travis Kvapil Toyota Burger King / Dr Pepper 188.296 50.856 -0.839
37 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota AM / FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves 188.001 50.936 -0.919
38 83 Landon Cassill Toyota Burger King / Dr Pepper 187.986 50.940 -0.923
39 36 Dave Blaney Chevrolet Golden Corral 187.460 51.083 -1.066
40 47 Bobby Labonte Toyota Scott / Kingsford / Bush Beans 186.991 51.211 -1.194
41 10 David Reutimann Chevrolet CVP@TMone.com 186.783 51.268 -1.251
42 33 Cole Whitt Chevrolet Little Joes Autos.com 186.289 51.404 -1.387
43 23 Robert Richardson Jr. Chevrolet North Texas Pipe 185.942 51.500 -1.483

+ Set by Owner Points
* Denotes Rookie

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