MENCS: Ricky Stenhouse Earns GEICO 500 Pole at Talladega



Ricky Stenhouse Jr. scooted to the Coors Light Pole Award on Saturday, topping the rest of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series field at Talladega Superspeedway.

Stenhouse navigated the 2.66-mile track with a pole-winning lap of 191.547 mph in the Roush Fenway Racing No. 17 Ford. His first pole of the season was his first at Talladega and the second of his Monster Energy Series career. Stenhouse’s other pole in the series came Labor Day weekend in 2013 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

“We plan to keep getting better and continue to bring better race cars to the track and go out there and lay it all on the line like we do every week,” Stenhouse said of his team’s modest uptick in performance. “It’s been really fun to drive, real special.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr., a six-time Talladega winner, qualified second and his Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet will share the front row with Stenhouse for the start of Sunday’s GEICO 500 (2 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Earnhardt’s final-round lap clocked in at 190.780 mph, a solid .201 seconds behind Stenhouse’s pole lap.

“We always kind of come down here and find ourselves with an opportunity for the pole,” said Earnhardt, who announced April 25 that this season would be his last full-time campaign. “Hopefully, we will get one before the year is out at one of these plate tracks. I know the guys have been so close at Daytona and Talladega for so many years, so it would be great to do it this last season together. Just came up a little short today, but the car is fast and it will be good for Sunday.”

Brad Keselowski, a four-time winner at Talladega, qualified third in the Team Penske No. 2 Ford. Matt Kenseth, in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, and Trevor Bayne, in the No. 6 RFR Ford, completed the top five.

Stenhouse was also fastest in the first of two rounds of qualifying. Denny Hamlin was the last driver to make the 12-car cut for the final round, edging Martin Truex Jr. for that spot by .011 seconds.

D.J. Kennington, attempting to make his second Monster Energy Cup start of the season for Gaunt Brothers Racing, was the only driver who failed to qualify for the 40-car field.


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The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc. (NASCAR) is the sanctioning body for the No. 1 form of motorsports in the United States. NASCAR consists of three national series (the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series, and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series), four regional series, one local grassroots series and three international series.

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