Brian Scott surprise Talladega pole winner

Brian Scott

Brian Scott landed his first Coors Light Pole Award in a frantic first group qualifying session for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Talladega Superspeedway.

Scott, driving the No. 33 Chevrolet on a part-time basis for Circle Sport Racing, turned a fast lap of 198.290 mph to score the first pole position of his Sprint Cup career in his fifth start. He'll start first in Sunday's Aaron's 499 (1 p.m. ET, FOX), the second race of the season where cars use restrictor plates to limit horsepower.

Scott used a strong aerodynamic pull from Paul Menard at the tail of a long, six-car pack of Richard Childress Racing-affiliated cars as the final five-minute qualifying session came to a close to post a session-best lap of 198.290 mph.

Accordingly, drivers for RCR or Childress-allied teams rounded out the top six spots. Menard, in the No. 27 Childress Chevrolet, claimed the second spot at 197.888 mph. AJ Allmendinger of the RCR-affiliated JTG Daugherty Racing team, Casey Mears from Germain Racing, Sprint Cup rookie Austin Dillon and RCR teammate Ryan Newman completed the top six, meaning they will occupy the first three rows in Sunday's 499-miler.

One RCR-allied team was not as fortunate — the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet for Martin Truex Jr. failed a post-qualifying tech inspection for failing to meet height requirements. Truex, fastest in opening Sprint Cup practice Friday, will start from the rear of the 43-car field with Kasey Kahne, whose qualifying time was also disallowed when his No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy was found underweight in post-qualifying inspection.

Brian Scott
HHP/Rusty Jarrett for Chevrolet

The multiple-round, knockout-style group qualifying format — introduced before the 2014 season — did not debut at Daytona International Speedway in February, where series officials opted to stick with its traditional system of using time trials and midweek qualifying races to determine the Daytona 500 starting order. That meant Saturday's three-session qualifying was the series' first go-round in the tightly wound aerodynamic packs that prevail at restrictor-plate tracks.

The format led to an intriguing cat-and-mouse game, where teammates locked together in attempts to gain an aero advantage or soft-pedaled on the 2.66-mile track to wait for the right opportunity to pounce and post a fast lap.

The top spot on the leaderboard changed hands three times in the first, 25-minute session. Marcos Ambrose was the first driver to clock a chart-topping lap at speed, but he yielded briefly to journeyman Reed Sorenson. Six-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson took a turn atop the leaderboard, but Kyle Busch took the top spot to stay with a 200.574 mph lap. Joey Logano, last weekend's winner at Richmond, was second-fastest in the first session as the only other driver to top the 200-mph mark.

Busch's fast early lap was tempered by right-side damage to his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. He was allowed to change his right-front tire before the following rounds of qualifying. Former Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip, now a part-time competitor, also took damage to his No. 66 Toyota's right-front fender; he failed to make the top-24 cut for the second round of qualifying.
The top spot changed hands three more times in the second, 10-minute round of qualifying, with Kasey Kahne, Newman, Brad Keselowski and ultimately Scott leading the way. The session was essentially halted by a caution period for debris at the seven-minute mark. Danica Patrick was the final driver to make the 12-driver cut for the final, five-minute qualifying session to determine the pole winner.

In the final session, each of the 12 drivers backed out of their pit stalls and sat idling for the first two minutes, 40 seconds, allowing the field to make just two competitive laps in a bid for the pole. It was just enough time for the Childress-related cars to get aligned.

Eric McClure, J.J. Yeley, Dave Blaney and Joe Nemechek failed to qualify for the 43-car field.

Results

Pos Driver Team/Car Time Behind
1. Brian Scott Circle Sport Chevrolet 48.293s +0.000s
2. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet 48.391s +0.098s
3. AJ Allmendinger JTG Daugherty Chevrolet 48.436s +0.143s
4. Casey Mears Germain Chevrolet 48.518s +0.225s
5. Austin Dillon Childress Chevrolet 48.520s +0.227s
6. Ryan Newman Childress Chevrolet 48.536s +0.243s
7. Danica Patrick Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 49.109s +0.816s
8. Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 49.261s +0.968s
9. Kurt Busch Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 49.458s +1.165s
10. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford 49.459s +1.166s
11. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet 49.492s +1.199s
12. Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 50.678s +2.385s
13. Brad Keselowski Penske Ford 49.117s Round 2
14. Michael McDowell Leavine Ford 49.118s Round 2
15. Aric Almirola Petty Ford 49.130s Round 2
16. Joey Logano Penske Ford 49.138s Round 2
17. Kasey Kahne Hendrick Chevrolet 49.138s Round 2
18. Michael Annett Baldwin Chevrolet 49.336s Round 2
19. Brian Vickers Waltrip Toyota 49.352s Round 2
20. Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Toyota 49.478s Round 2
21. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet 49.494s Round 2
22. Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Toyota 49.499s Round 2
23. Reed Sorenson Baldwin Chevrolet 50.165s Round 2
24. Trevor Bayne Wood Brothers Ford 50.248s Round 2
25. Ryan Truex BK Toyota 48.385s Round 1
26. Ricky Stenhouse Jr Roush Fenway Ford 48.386s Round 1
27. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford 48.404s Round 1
28. Michael Waltrip Waltrip Toyota 48.411s Round 1
29. Clint Bowyer Waltrip Toyota 48.411s Round 1
30. Kyle Larson Ganassi Chevrolet 48.420s Round 1
31. Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet 48.421s Round 1
32. Cole Whitt BK Toyota 48.432s Round 1
33. Jamie McMurray Ganassi Chevrolet 48.500s Round 1
34. Alex Bowman BK Toyota 48.510s Round 1
35. Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Toyota 48.516s Round 1
36. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford 48.549s Round 1
37. Josh Wise Parsons Chevrolet 48.602s Round 1
38. Martin Truex Jr Furniture Row Chevrolet 48.661s Round 1
39. Terry Labonte Go FAS Ford 48.672s Round 1
40. Justin Allgaier HSCott Chevrolet 48.800s Round 1
41. David Ragan Front Row Ford 48.924s Round 1
42. David Gilliland Front Row Ford 49.138s Round 1
43. Landon Cassill Hillman Chevrolet 49.262s Round 1
DNQ Dave Blaney Humphrey Smith Toyota 48.967s Round 1
DNQ Joe Nemechek Robinson Toyota 49.221s Round 1
DNQ Eric McClure Front Row Ford 49.268s Round 1
DNQ JJ Yeley Xxxtreme Toyota 49.835s Round 1

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