Allmendinger on Saturday Pole
Richard Petty Motorsports driver joined by Speed on front row
From Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service AJ Allmendinger described his first NASCAR Sprint Cup pole as "a small victory" - with the fervent hope that it leads to something bigger, as in a race win. Allmendinger led a quartet of former open-wheel stars in Friday's qualifying session for Saturday's SUBWAY Fresh Fit 600™ at Phoenix International Raceway. With a lap at 134.675 mph (26.731 seconds), Allmendinger's No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford edged Scott Speed's No. 82 Toyota (134.373 mph) for the Coors Light Pole Award. Sam Hornish Jr. (134.198 mph) qualified a career-best third in his No. 77 Dodge, followed by Marcos Ambrose (133.814 mph) in his No. 47 Toyota. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was fifth fastest at 133.640 mph. "I knew we were going to be quick," Allmendinger said. "We were quick in practice, but you go out there and you just don't know how much grip is going to be on the racetrack. I knew I was going to have to get everything out of it to have a chance of beating (Speed). "It's a small victory for us to get our first career pole together, and to start up front is really cool, but the big picture is (Saturday), and that's what we're focused on." Speed was the 13th driver to make a qualifying attempt. Allmendinger went out 30th and had the benefit of a slightly cooler track. "As soon as Turn 1 started getting shaded - that's when Scott ran his lap, when the shade had kind of come over - I knew the grip was going to be there, but it was a little surprising how gripped-up the racetrack got," Allmendinger said. "It was still really hot out there, but it seems like, at a lot of these older racetracks, a couple of degrees, when it gets cooler, can really change the racetack a lot." Speed was sporting a shaved head at Phoenix, a far cry from the blue-black dye job he had for the last two races, at Bristol and Martinsville. "I had to shave all the black hair because that seemed to be bad luck," Speed said. "I also named our car. Her name is 'Rattlesnake.' I think it's kind of mean and sounds fast. We're in Phoenix, so it fits. I don't know which one of those has changed our luck around, but we'll continue doing all of them." Tickets for Saturday's SUBWAY Fresh Fit 600™ at Phoenix International Raceway can be purchased online at PhoenixRaceway.com or by calling 1-866-408-RACE (7223).