ALMIROLA WINS FIRST POLE SINCE 2012
At a track known for making history, Aric Almirola did something on Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway that he hadn’t done in nearly seven years: win the pole for a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race.
“In the final round, (it was) just really good execution by the whole team. The changes that the engineers and Johnny made to the car – honestly, just the car the guys brought – we had a really good car right off the truck. We were second in practice and just kind of carried that speed through qualifying. In that final round, I knew a second lap was going to be faster than the first. I sort of decided to throw the first lap away building the speed up and in the second lap, I just really executed, hit all my marks perfectly and was able to be good enough and (post) a really fast lap to get the pole, which is cool because I haven’t done it in like seven years. It was pretty neat.”
Almirola’s second lap in the final round of qualifying for Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 was his best of the session – and no one could top it. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver posted a phenomenal 30.55-second, 181.473-mph run to edge fellow Ford drivers Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Clint Bowyer.
The pole was Almirola’s second of his Cup Series career and his first since the 2012 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Daytona 500 winner and series points leader Denny Hamlin will start fourth on Sunday. Daniel Suarez – like Almirola and Bowyer, a Stewart-Haas driver – will roll off fifth. Kyle Busch was sixth-fastest with Kyle Larson seventh, Kurt Busch eighth, Martin Truex Jr. ninth and Austin Dillon 10th.
Sunday’s forecast for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 features plenty of sun and clear skies for the second race of the Monster Energy Cup Series season on Atlanta’s challenging, high-speed 1.5-mile quad oval.