Sprint Cup Series points leader Greg Biffle saved the best for last and spoiled a Hendrick Motorsports-sweep of the front row with a late-session pole winning run in Friday’s qualifying to capture the top starting spot for Saturday night’s Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway
Biffle took to the track as the second-to-last qualifier and clicked off a lap to knock Jimmie Johnson off the pole and knock Kasey Kahne to third to break up what would have been an all-Hendrick Motorsports front row, tallying his second pole of the season and 11th of his career.
Ryan Newman and Kyle Busch rounded out the top five qualifiers.
Biffle’s pole-winning effort was the second of his career at Darlington, where he has two victories under his belt in 2005 and 2006.
“It was a great lap," said Biffle. “I love this race track. The fans down here are
great and I can’t wait for a great race tomorrow night.
“I don’t think there’s such a thing as a perfect lap here. I was in and out of the
gas down there in turn one and two, and in three and four I felt I drove it in as far as I could and the car stuck really good, so I thought maybe I didn’t get enough, but when I came by and they told me it was the front row, I was pretty happy."
Johnson was looking to rebound from his disappointing DNF finish last weekend at Talladega, hoping to score his first Darlington victory since 2004.
“We’ve had a very productive day. We put up a good time off the truck," said Johnson. “I knew that I left a little time on the table down there, and (pole winner) Greg (Biffle) certainly went down there and found it. I was watching. He had a blistering fast 3 and 4, and came back around and got us. I wish it was a Hendrick front row, but it was a solid day all in all."
Martin Truex, Jr. will start sixth, followed by Carl Edwards and Denny Hamlin. Defending race winner Regan Smith will roll off ninth ahead of Jeff Burton.
Scott Riggs, Michael McDowell, Stephen Leicht and Mike Bliss failed to make the field.
|1||16||Greg Biffle||Ford||3M / O'Reilly Auto Parts||180.257||27.281||Leader|
|3||5||Kasey Kahne||Chevrolet||Farmers Insurance||179.566||27.386||-0.105|
|4||39||Ryan Newman||Chevrolet||Bass Pro Shops / Tracker Boats||179.461||27.402||-0.121|
|5||18||Kyle Busch||Toyota||Wrigley's Doublemint||179.448||27.404||-0.123|
|6||56||Martin Truex Jr.||Toyota||NAPA Auto Parts||179.317||27.424||-0.143|
|7||99||Carl Edwards||Ford||Ford EcoBoost||179.298||27.427||-0.146|
|8||11||Denny Hamlin||Toyota||FedEx Express||179.187||27.444||-0.163|
|9||78||Regan Smith||Chevrolet||Furniture Row / Farm American||179.141||27.451||-0.170|
|11||1||Jamie McMurray||Chevrolet||Bass Pro Shops / Allstate||179.089||27.459||-0.178|
|12||24||Jeff Gordon||Chevrolet||Drive to End Hunger / AARP||179.076||27.461||-0.180|
|13||43||Aric Almirola||Ford||Verifone Sail||178.991||27.474||-0.193|
|14||27||Paul Menard||Chevrolet||Turtle Wax / Menards||178.926||27.484||-0.203|
|15||2||Brad Keselowski||Dodge||Miller Lite||178.822||27.500||-0.219|
|16||22||AJ Allmendinger||Dodge||Shell / Pennzoil-AAA||178.783||27.506||-0.225|
|17||14||Tony Stewart||Chevrolet||Office Depot / Mobil 1||178.724||27.515||-0.234|
|18||55||Mark Martin||Toyota||Aaron's Dream Machine||178.491||27.551||-0.270|
|19||17||Matt Kenseth||Ford||Best Buy||178.226||27.592||-0.311|
|20||83||Landon Cassill||Toyota||Burger King / Dr Pepper||178.090||27.613||-0.332|
|21||20||Joey Logano||Toyota||Dollar General||177.980||27.630||-0.349|
|22||47||Bobby Labonte||Toyota||Bush's Baked Beans||177.974||27.631||-0.350|
|24||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Chevrolet||National Guard / Diet Mountain Dew||177.903||27.642||-0.361|
|25||51||Kurt Busch||Chevrolet||Phoenix Construction Services||177.845||27.651||-0.370|
|26||15||Clint Bowyer||Toyota||Aaron's / Alabama National Champions||177.781||27.661||-0.380|
|27||42||Juan Montoya||Chevrolet||Target / Kraft||177.307||27.735||-0.454|
|29||179||Scott Speed||Ford||Team Kyle / Koma Unwind||176.879||27.802||-0.521|
|30||26||Josh Wise*||Ford||Morristown Driver's Service||176.746||27.823||-0.542|
|32||30||David Stremme||Toyota||Stock Car Steel and Aluminum||176.606||27.845||-0.564|
|33||173||Travis Kvapil||Toyota||Burger King / Dr Pepper||176.594||27.847||-0.566|
|36||38||David Gilliland||Ford||Taco Bell||175.767||27.978||-0.697|
|37||34||David Ragan||Ford||Front Row Motorsports||175.604||28.004||-0.723|
|39||74||Cole Whitt||Chevrolet||Turn One Racing||175.497||28.021||-0.740|
|40||87||Joe Nemechek||Toyota||AMFMEnergy.com / Pellet & Wood Stoves||175.022||28.097||-0.816|
|41||93||David Reutimann+||Toyota||Tommy Baldwin Racing||174.408||28.196||-0.915|
|42||32||Reed Sorenson+||Ford||Southern Pride Trucking||173.724||28.307||-1.026|
|43||249||J.J. Yeley||Toyota||America Israel Racing / JPO Absorbents||174.848||28.125||-0.844|
|–||–||Did Not Qualify||–||–||–||–||–|
|44||23||Scott Riggs||Chevrolet||North Texas Pipe||174.823||28.129||-0.848|
|45||98||Michael McDowell||Ford||Curb Records||174.730||28.144||-0.863|
|46||33||Stephen Leicht||Chevrolet||Little Joes Autos.com / Link-Belt||174.662||28.155||-0.874|
|47||119||Mike Bliss||Toyota||Humphrey Smith Racing||174.649||28.157||-0.876|
+ Set by Owner Points
* Denotes Rookie