Rainout Puts Casey Mears On Sprint Cup Pole At Bristol

Casey Mears will start Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event from the pole after rain washed out qualifying at Bristol Motor Speedway. Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR

Five years after he won his last NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole, Casey Mears will start from the top spot for Saturday’s Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

It was a fast car that put Mears on the pole Friday. It was a slow-moving thunderstorm that washed out time trials and forced NASCAR to start the race, as the rule book dictates, based on speeds from the first practice session.

Mears topped the speed chart at 122.209 mph in qualifying trim in Friday’s opening practice, thereby earning the top spot on the grid.

“It’s been a long couple of years but the team’s grown in strides,” said Mears, a sometimes start-and-park driver who plans to run the entire race at Bristol. “We’ve shown a lot of improvement, but still have a lot to learn. . . . It gives us a big head-start from where we’ve been in the past.”

Brad Keselowski will start second, followed by Cup points leader Greg Biffle and Joey Logano. Aric Almirola, Jeff Burton, Paul Menard, Denny Hamlin, Marcos Ambrose and Kyle Busch will take the green flag from positions five through 10, respectively.

Mears has three career poles, the last coming in 2007 at Chicagoland Speedway, in a car owned by Rick Hendrick. Mears won his first two poles with Chip Ganassi Racing in 2004, at Pocono and Indianapolis.

Jimmie Johnson, who was 41st fastest of 47 drivers in practice, will start 37th, because four drivers ahead of him on the speed chart — Scott Speed, Kelly Bires, Reed Sorenson and JJ Yeley — failed to make the field under NASCAR’s rainout rules, which feature the number of qualifying attempts and owner points position as the first two tiebreakers.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., third in the series standings, will start 16th, followed by Matt Kenseth, who is second in points, 20 behind Biffle, his Roush Fenway Racing teammate. Danica Patrick, who was slowest in both Friday practice sessions but has a guaranteed spot in the field on owner points, will start 43rd.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Bristol Motor Speedway – Bristol, TN
IRWIN Tools Night Race Qualifying – Aug. 24, 2012

1    13    Casey Mears    2012 Owner Points 28th
2    2    Brad Keselowski    2012 Owner Points 5th
3    16    Greg Biffle    2012 Owner Points 1st
4    20    Joey Logano    2012 Owner Points 19th
5    43    Aric Almirola    2012 Owner Points 23rd
6    31    Jeff Burton    2012 Owner Points 21st
7    27    Paul Menard    2012 Owner Points 16th
8    11    Denny Hamlin    2012 Owner Points 10th
9    9    Marcos Ambrose    2012 Owner Points 17th
10    18    Kyle Busch    2012 Owner Points 14th
11    24    Jeff Gordon    2012 Owner Points 15th
12    5    Kasey Kahne    2012 Owner Points 11th
13    29    Kevin Harvick    2012 Owner Points 8th
14    78    Regan Smith    2012 Owner Points 25th
15    56    Martin Truex Jr.    2012 Owner Points 6th
16    88    Dale Earnhardt Jr.    2012 Owner Points 3rd
17    17    Matt Kenseth    2012 Owner Points 2nd
18    38    David Gilliland    2012 Owner Points 29th
19    39    Ryan Newman    2012 Owner Points 13th
20    51    Kurt Busch    2012 Owner Points 27th
21    14    Tony Stewart    2012 Owner Points 9th
22    55    Brian Vickers    2012 Owner Points 18th
23    15    Clint Bowyer    2012 Owner Points 7th
24    34    David Ragan    2012 Owner Points 31st
25    36    Dave Blaney    2012 Owner Points 35th
26    1    Jamie McMurray    2012 Owner Points 20th
27    99    Carl Edwards    2012 Owner Points 12th
28    42    Juan Pablo Montoya    2012 Owner Points 24th
29    22    Sam Hornish Jr.    2012 Owner Points 22nd
30    98    Michael McDowell    2012 Owner Attempts
31    30    David Stremme    2012 Owner Attempts
32    26    Josh Wise     2012 Owner Attempts
33    83    Landon Cassill    2012 Owner Points 32nd
34    19    Mike Bliss    2012 Owner Attempts 17
35    23    Scott Riggs    2012 Owner Attempts 21
36    47    Bobby Labonte    2012 Owner Points 26th
37    48    Jimmie Johnson    2012 Owner Points 4th
38    33    Stephen Leicht    2012 Owner Attempts
39    49    Jason Leffler    2012 Owner Attempts 20
40    87    Joe Nemechek    2012 Owner Attempts
41    93    Travis Kvapil    2012 Owner Points 30th
42    32    Ken Schrader    2012 Owner Points 34th
43    10    Danica Patrick    2012 Owner Points 33rd
Did Not Qualify: Scott Speed,Kelly Bires, Reed Sorenson, JJ Yeley


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