Kasey Kahne won his first career pole at Talladega Superspeedway, leading a strong group of championship contenders in Saturday’s qualifying session in Talladega, Ala.
Kahne’s lap of 191.455 mph bettered Ryan Newman’s 191.145, putting a pair of Chevrolets on the front row for today’s race.
Kahne, who is sixth in the standings and trails leader Brad Keselowski by 32 points, wants to race.
Two-time defending race winner Clint Bowyer has had Talladega circled as the track that can most help his championship chances. He’s fourth in the standings and has talked all week about gaining some big ground today.
Then he surprised himself with a third-place qualifying run that has him reconsidering his race strategy.
Three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart qualified fourth and was followed by Greg Biffle as Chase drivers took four of the top five starting sports.
Jeff Gordon was sixth, and was followed by Carl Edwards, Trevor Bayne, Martin Truex Jr. and Sam Hornish Jr.
In all, Chase drivers took six of the top-10 starting spots. The other half of the Chase field is spread out all the way down to 23rd, which is where Denny Hamlin will go off.
Matt Kenseth was 15th, Jimmie Johnson 17th, Kevin Harvick 21st and leader Keselowski 22nd.
Johnson, who has failed to finish the three previous plate races this season, said his strategy is simple. “Don’t crash,” he said.
Funny Car title contender Jack Beckman set a national record en route to his fourth No. 1 qualifying position of the season in the Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals in Mohnton, Pa.
After a dominating performance Friday, Beckman powered his Dodge Charger to a time of 4.003 seconds in his first qualifying attempt. That was quick enough to certify his 3.989 effort from Friday as an NHRA national record. Beckman, who trails series points leader Ron Capps by 17 points, will earn a 20-point bonus if he hangs onto the record following the completion of today’s eliminations.
Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel claimed pole position for the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix, qualifying in Suzuka, Japan.
Vettel, a two-time winner in Japan, secured his fourth consecutive pole at Suzuka and will be in a good position in today’s race to further erode the championship lead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso.
Vettel won the previous race in Singapore and is just 29 points behind Alonso in the standings with six races left.
Parker Kligerman picked up his first career victory by pulling away from the field as a trademark last-lap wreck marred Saturday’s Truck Series race at Talladega Superspeedway.
Kligerman won in the 300th start for Red Horse Racing.