With his fifth pole in 15 qualifying attempts this season, Brian Vickers will lead an all-Red Bull Racing Toyota front row to the green flag in Saturday night's LifeLock.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway.
Vickers turned a lap at the 1.5-mile racetrack in 29.322 seconds (184.162 mph) Thursday to set a standard no other driver in the field could approach. Vickers' team-mate Scott Speed, who was last among 46 drivers to make a qualifying attempt, posted a lap at 182.958 mph to edge Jimmie Johnson (182.217 mph) for the second starting spot.
Now with ten career poles, what's frustrating Vickers is the inability to convert his qualifying efforts into victories. Vickers' only win in NASCAR's Cup series came three years ago at Talladega.
"I'm very frustrated to not be in victory lane," Vickers said. "Sitting on poles this year was one of our goals. Winning races was, too. If I had to pick between the two, I'd pick wins over poles, but we'll take whatever we can get -- and we're really proud of the poles we've sat on this year.
"We've had the cars during the races to win. We just haven't had all the pieces come together. Everyone knows that to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup race is very difficult. It takes a lot of talent, almost zero mistakes over 400, 500 or 600 miles, and also some luck."
Starting beside Johnson in fourth is Denny Hamlin (182.162 mph), and starting behind the three-time defending champion in fifth is Clint Bowyer (182.100 mph). Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Bill Elliott, David Reutimann and Marcos Ambrose will start from positions six through ten, respectively.
Cup points leader Tony Stewart, who started from the pole in the last two races because of qualifying rainouts, will have to come from deep in the field after qualifying 32nd Thursday.
Vickers was pleasantly surprised by his qualifying pace.
"It was an amazing lap," Vickers said. "I didn't expect it to be that quick. We had a really good car, and it was up to me to mess up or finish the job, one or the other."
Mike Wallace, Dexter Bean and Tony Raines failed to qualify for the 43-car field.
by Reid Spencer/Sporting News