As dusk fell Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. snuck in the fastest lap of the day at the end of the qualifying round, putting him out front for the start of Sunday's AdvoCare 500.It was Stenhouse's first career NASCAR Sprint Cup pole position, and he earned it with a lap of 189.688 mph (29.227 seconds).
"It's good to finally get something accomplished," Stenhouse said. "It was a lot of fun today, and hopefully we can run strong in the race. We've got track position starting out, which is key, especially when you're going to take four tires every time. Here at Atlanta, you don't take two tires, so it's good to have that track position."
Starting alongside him will be three-time Atlanta winner Carl Edwards, who disagreed with rookie Stenhouse about the importance of starting out front at this gritty, super-fast superspeedway.
"I think this race will change a lot throughout the event," Edwards said. "The track changes a lot through the race, and I think whatever works at the beginning of the race won't work at the end. I think you'll see a migrating groove. But it is a 500-mile race. The biggest thing is to work (Saturday) to have our cars fast on the long run. This race is always won by the guy who's good over 30 laps, and not the guy who's fast on the short runs. So yeah, qualifying's probably not as good of an indicator of race success here as it is other places. So we've got to keep working even though we've qualified well."
Rounding out the top five are Juan Pablo Montoya, Denny Hamlin and Jeff Gordon.
Georgia drivers Joey Logano and David Ragan will start 11th and 14th respectively.
Tickets for the AdvoCare 500 start at $39. Student tickets cost just $19. For more information, visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com or call the AMS Ticket Office at (877) 9-AMS-TIX or (770) 946-4211.