Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet, led the two-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent in time trials Friday at Phoenix International Raceway by qualifying ninth for the AdvoCare 500k NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday. Stewart turned a lap of 26.303 seconds at 136.867 mph around the 1-mile oval.
“It wasn’t anything spectacular,” said Stewart, who won at Phoenix in November 1999. “The Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevy was a little free – freer than we were in practice, but we still picked up two tenths, so I’m proud of the pickup. I thought our second lap would actually be better, but it kind of gave up some grip.”
Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Quicken Loans/U.S. Army Chevrolet for SHR, will start 12th after posting a lap of 26.331 seconds at 136.721 mph.
“It was a decent lap for the Quicken Loans/U.S. Army Chevrolet, but obviously not as quick as we were in practice,” said Newman, who won at Phoenix in April 2010. “Hopefully, on Sunday we’ll make it interesting by getting our car into victory lane. That would be the perfect ‘thank you’ to our Soldiers on Veterans Day.”
SHR driver Danica Patrick, who is wheeling the No. 10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet for Tommy Baldwin Racing via a collaborative agreement with SHR, qualified 37th with a lap of 27.077 seconds at 132.954 mph.
“The Go Daddy Chevy was pretty edgy, especially coming to the green. It stuck way out and I couldn’t turn the wheel, so I ended up pretty wide and I wasn’t sure if I was going to have enough grip to stay out of the wall coming to the green,” said Patrick, who will make her 10th career Sprint Cup start on Sunday, but first at Phoenix. “We definitely had a really tight car in practice and our qualifying runs were actually tighter than our race runs. I know Tony (Gibson, crew chief) was trying to free it up so we could have a good lap. We’re working really well together and hopefully we can make some more good changes tomorrow.”
Kyle Busch captured his 10th career Sprint Cup pole, his second of the season and his second at Phoenix by turning a lap of 25.943 seconds at 138.766 mph, breaking the previous Sprint Cup track qualifying record of 26.224 seconds at 137.279 mph set by Carl Edwards on Feb. 26, 2011.
Martin Truex Jr. will start on the outside of row one after clocking in at 26.046 seconds at 138.217 mph. Denny Hamlin was third (26.167 seconds at 137.578 mph), while Kasey Kahne (26.186 seconds at 137.478 mph) and Aric Almirola (26.237 seconds at 137.211 mph) rounded out the top-five.
Forty-four drivers attempted to qualify for the AdvoCare 500k. The lone driver not making the cut in the 43-car field was J.J. Yeley.
Toyota took the top spot among manufacturers via Busch’s pole run. Chevrolet was next best at the hands of Kahne. Ford was the third-fastest make thanks to Almirola, while 14th-quick Brad Keselowski (26.350 seconds at 136.622 mph) carried the flag for Dodge.
The AdvoCare 500k, the penultimate race of the 2012 Sprint Cup season, gets underway at 3 p.m. EST Sunday, with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with a pre-race show at 2 p.m.