Sunday, April 22, 2012

Allmendinger wins pole for STP 400

The STP 400 is bound to be an action packed race on Sunday, the final race on the original racing surface at the Kansas Speedway.

It did not seem to matter when a driver made his qualifying run as the three-fastest drivers made their runs at different times of the session. AJ Allmendinger went out in the 39th position, but posted a speed of 175.993 mph to put his car on the pole.

Kevin Harvick will start second on Sunday with a qualifying run of 175.747 mph. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day was Joey Logano. After suffering engine problems while entering the track for the first practice session on Friday, Logano had the first qualifying spot and made the most of it. He had a lap of 175.724 mph, but will start from the back of the field after making an engine change.

Allmendinger was happy with his qualifying run, but thought he could have gone faster. He was surprised when his crew chief told him he would start on the pole.

“A great lap,” said Allemendinger. “I didn’t think that the lap was amazing. It was OK. When Todd told me the lap time, I was shocked by it. Everybody on the AAA Dodge has been working hard. We’re not where we want to be yet. We’ll start up front, the best that I’ve ever started here before. I know that I need to be better than I’ve been. We’re getting closer.”

It marked Allmendinger’s second career pole and the first of the 2012 season. This is his first pole at Kansas Speedway in six seasons. 

Harvick was equally happy with his qualifying run after being off in practice. But after a night of looking at the data, he was thrilled with the adjustments his crew made.

“These guys have done a great job in qualifying this year,” Harvick mentioned. “We were off yesterday in practice. We sit down, like we do every week now, and look at the data and talk about things on the car that we think we need to do better. They made some great adjustments. I thought I over drove it a little bit down there (turn three) but it pushed up a little bit and I was able to get back in the gas and stay in it. That’s the key.”

Logano noted how much he leaned on his teammates to get the setup for his car during qualifying.

“It’s tough for sure, we started the second practice an hour and a half behind everyone,” Logano said. “We definitely listened to our teammates as much as we could our first practice out there and learned some things from them. Sometimes you just have to figure it out for yourself when you go out there and we had a lot of work to do in the second practice.”

After seven races, the points chase is close as Greg Biffle leads both Matt Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt Jr. by 19 points. The season has featured balance as six different drivers have won a race so far and two-time Kansas Speedway winner Tony Stewart has a pair of race wins. The STP 400 could feature another first-time winner in 2012 as none of the top three starters have visited victory lane in 2012.

Tickets for Sunday’s STP 400 are still available by calling 866.460.RACE (7223) or at the gate.