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Qualifying washout hands Casey Mears pole

A strong run in practice turned into a pole position for this week's Sprint Cup race for sometime start-and-park driver Casey Mears, after storms hit Bristol Motor Speedway.
A heavy thunderstorm sweeping over Bristol Motor Speedway meant that the Sprint Cup drivers were denied the chance to set qualifying laps for Saturday evening's IRWIN Tools Night Race following a qualifying wash-out.

Casey Mears had earlier put in the top time of 15.701s (122.209 mph) during the marathon two hour first practice session on Friday, and was glad that he did as NASCAR rules set the starting grid according to the times from that session, handing Mears his first Cup pole since 2007 at Chicagoland when he was driving for Hendrick Motorsports. He'll start the race alongside Brad Keselowski, who was just six thousands of a second slower than Mears in that first session.

"It's exciting for us, I think it's going to be good. Obviously, starting up front at Bristol period is always a good thing," said Mears after his good fortune was confirmed. "I think it's exciting for our team to be able to have this opportunity to have the first pit selection starting up towards the front. It gives us a big head start from where we've been in the past."

Even though clinching pole position is the result of good luck with the weather, Mears still had to earn it with his practice performance.

"We were pretty embarrassed at how we showed up here last time," he admitted. "We were playing catch-up the first part of this year and to be able to put a little time into it and work at it.

"We unloaded way better than we were here last time," he continued. "Race trim felt pretty good as well and when they switched over to qualifying trim we were 15th to 12th and they made a substantial adjustment in the right direction and we were able to shoot to the top of the board. It's exciting for us. I think it's going to be good.

Mears' team, Germain Racing, has been struggling for both sponsorship as well as form in 2012 and had been a start-and-park entry in previous races, but Mears confirmed that he had the backing to make a full run of it this weekend - especially now he'll start from the front.

"Bristol is one that we're definitely going to run," he said. "We run next weekend in Atlanta, so a good run here would definitely set us off right for a good week next week as well."

The lengthy early practice session had been in order to allow drivers to get used to the changes made to Bristol since the series last visited the circuit, which has seen progressive banking altered to promote close racing, but Mears said that it was too early to tell how the changes would affect the racing grooves available to drivers on Saturday night.




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Casey Mears driving the #13 (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Casey Mears (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Pro Services Chevrolet, and Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-hour Energy Toyota, lead a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 22, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Skittles Toyota, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 22, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Skittles Toyota, lead the field past the green flag to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 22, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 22, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 22, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, celebrates with the chequered flag after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 22, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 22, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 22, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 22, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 22, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, finishes in ninth place Saturday night, August 22, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, finishes in second place Saturday night, August 22, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Pro Services Chevrolet SS, finishes in fourth place Saturday night, August 22, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, finishes in second place Saturday night, August 22, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 21, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 21, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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