Where pole positions at Michigan International Speedway are concerned, Brian Vickers is 2-for-2 this season.
Vickers turned a lap at the two-mile speedway in 38.453 seconds Friday (187.242 mph) to win the top starting spot for Sunday's Carfax 400. The pole was Vickers' third straight at MIS, dating to last August, and his sixth overall this season, tops in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series.
Vickers, who has 11 career poles, knocked Mark Martin (187.013 mph) from the top spot, after Martin had unseated Juan Pablo Montoya (186.819 mph) from the provisional pole. Jimmie Johnson (186.432 mph) and Martin Truex Jr. (186.263 mph) will follow Vickers, Martin and Montoya to the green flag.
Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, rookie Joey Logano, Bill Elliott and Kasey Kahne qualified sixth through 10, respectively, though Kahne will have to drop to the rear of the field for the start of the race because of an engine change.
Vickers said qualifying on the pole at Michigan gives a driver an advantage that goes beyond starting at the front of the field. The other perk that goes to the top qualifier is first pick of pit boxes - invariably stall #1 at the turn one end of pit road.
"A lot of people put emphasis on being on the pole here at Michigan because of that pit stall," Vickers said. "The first pit stall at Michigan is THE closest of any pit stall on the circuit to the scoring line - the entry line or pit-out line - not the speed line but the pit line where they score the cars.
"It's always an advantage, but it's a bigger advantage here than most places. I think that's why a lot of people put emphasis on qualifying. For us, we made two race runs and three qualifying runs (in practice), so the whole emphasis was not on qualifying for us."
Kahne posted the tenth-fastest time after blowing an engine early in Friday's practice session. He had no practice laps on his #9 Dodge after the engine change before entering the queue for qualifying.
"Despite the engine change and barely any practice time, these guys (the #9 crew) gave me a really good car," said Kahne, who was credited with six laps completed in practice before the engine blew. "That was a pretty decent lap for not having practiced today.
"Everything ran the way it should, so I was happy."
Points leader Tony Stewart will start 18th, while Tony Raines was the only driver failing to qualify for the 43-car field.
by Reid Spencer/Sporting News