BRISTOL, Tenn. — By the thinnest of margins, Greg Biffle won the pole for Sunday’s Food City 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Biffle posted a lap at 125.215 mph (15.324 seconds) in Friday’s time trials and watched as the 10 drivers who succeeded him in the qualifying order tried to knock him out of the top spot. AJ Allmendinger came closest but fell .001 seconds short, as Biffle claimed the 10th Coors Light pole award of his career and his first at the .533-mile short track.
“I’ve got to pinch myself right now — I think I’m dreaming,” said Biffle, who has finished third in each of the first three races this season and leads the Cup standings by 10 points over Kevin Harvick.
Ryan Newman qualified third at 125.158 mph, followed by Jeff Gordon (125.085 mph) and August race winner Brad Keselowski (124.865 mph).
Biffle’s team made some 11th-hour adjustments minutes before Friday’s practice ended, and the changes paid off in the pole run.
“We were just going back and forth on some front geometry,” Biffle said. “We were switching a few things back and forth for a little more turn versus a little less turn. We were adjusting that balance so that the car front-to-rear grip was equal.”
What it gave Biffle was a 15-second thrill ride he would be reluctant to duplicate.
“I got in the gas fairly early (through Turns 1 and 2) and was a little worried about making the rest of the corner,” Biffle said. “It got loose up off of both ends because I went in the gas so early in the middle of the corner, just pushing the envelope as much as I could.
“If you asked me to do it again, I probably can’t. I was on the edge, and like I said, one one-thousandth of a second over the 22 car (Allmendinger) — that’s not a lot.”
The front-row starting spot was welcome medicine for Allmendinger, who has battled ill fortune in his first three starts for Penske Racing and is tied for 29th in points. Last week at Las Vegas, fuel pickup issues spoiled a promising run, but Allmendinger believes his team has the problem solved.
“As soon as we got back (from Las Vegas) on Monday morning, they were working hard on it,” Allmendinger said. “They figured out the problem, and they went to Nashville (for a test session) with (driver) Parker Kligerman and just ran miles after miles, making sure we didn’t have any problems with it brought that here to Bristol.
“I guess we’ll find out after Sunday if it’s completely solved, but I have confidence that it is.”
Note: Timmy Hill failed to qualify for the 43-car field.