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Allmendinger on pole for Penske at Kansas

Penske Racing's AJ Allmendinger will start this weekend's Sprint Cup race from pole position at Kansas Speedway, with Richard Childress Racing's Kevin Harvick alongside him.
AJ Allmendinger claimed his first Sprint Cup pole position since his switch to Penske Racing to replace Kurt Busch at the start of the year, with a late qualifying lap of 30.683s (175.993mph) putting him 0.043s ahead of Kevin Harvick.

"I didn't think that the lap was amazing, it was okay," said Allmendinger after setting his time on the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway oval. "When Todd [Gordon, crew chief] told me the lap time, I was shocked by it!"

Allmendinger said it was proof that the team was coming together after the upset of Busch's departure from the team over the close-season.

"Every step we're getting closer. Todd Gordon and I are gelling together as driver-crew chief. The whole team is gelling," he said. "More than anything, I just love being a part of this race team. I put a lot of pressure on my shoulders to go out there and win races, win poles for these guys, because they're so used to it."

Happy as he was with pole position, Allmendinger knew that it was only one stop on the way to real success - a race victory.

"The important day is tomorrow, but today we're the best. That's all that matters," he said. "To get a pole like this and get in the [2013] Shootout and just keep building the momentum, it's a big deal today."

Starting alongside him on the front row, Kevin Harvick was ruing a small mistake that probably cost him the top spot.

"All in all I probably got a little excited getting into turn three and over drove the car a little bit. That probably, in hindsight cost us the pole," he said. "All in all it's been a great year qualifying wise for us so far. The cars have been fast every week. As soon as we put together the whole weekend without me making a mistake or things not going exactly right. I think everything is going to come together nicely."

The second row was a lock-out for the Joe Gibbs Racing team on Saturday, with Joey Logano setting the third fastest time alongside his team mate Denny Hamlin. However, an engine change will mean that Logano will be sent to the back before the green flag on Sunday afternoon; meanwhile the third member of the JGR stable, Kyle Busch, will start from a disappointing 25th place.

Mark Martin continued to revel in his part-time status in the Michael Waltrip Racing #55 car, starting from the third row alongside team mate Martin Truex Jr., with the third member of the MWR team Clint Bowyer on the fourth row alongside Hendrick Motorsports' Dale Earnhardt Jr.

"We weren't very good in practice so we made a lot of changes to the car and the car drove really, really good in our qualifying run. So that was a personal victory for the team, I think," said Earnhardt, admitting that his qualifying form had initially been so poor that he'd had to crib notes off of Jimmie Johnson to get into shape for the session.

Johnson had topped both of the earlier Cup practice sessions but could only manage 15th place in qualifying himself.




Related Pictures

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AJ Allmendinger celebrates his second career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Award on Saturday at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan. (Photo Credit: Tyler Barrick/Getty Images)
AJ Allmendinger celebrates his second career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Award with Miss Coors Light Rachel Rupert and his No. 22 Penske Racing team on Saturday at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan. (Photo Credit: Tyler Barrick/Getty Images)
#22 Penske Racing crew chief Todd Gordon talks with driver AJ Allmendinger during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying on Saturday at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan. (Photo Credit: Tyler Barrick/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, and Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, lead a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, passes Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, to take the lead and win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, and team owner Tony Stewart celebrate winning in Victory Lane after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates with his wife DeLana and son Keelan in victory lane after winning during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates with the trophy in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Marcos Ambrose, driver of the #9 Stanley Ford, poses with his team before his last race, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, leads Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

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