For only the third time in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series history, a single organziation has swept the first four positions in qualifying at a single race.
Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. claimed the front two rows for tomorrow's Aaron's 499 at the Talladega Superspeedway. Gordon, who toured the track at 178.248 MPH, recorded his first pole of the season and the 70th of his illustrious career. He now has sole possession of third on the all-time list after breaking a tie with Cale Yarborough and ranks behind only Richard Petty (123) and David Pearson (113).
The fastest non-Hendrick machine was Paul Menard, who's Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet timed in fifth-quickest. Landon Cassill, driving James FInch's Hendrick-powered Chevrolet, was sixth fastest. The rest of the top-ten was filled out by Unadilla's David Ragan in a Roush-Fenway Ford, the Penske Dodge of Kurt Busch, Brian Vickers' Team Red Bull Toyota, and Daytona 500 champion Trevor Bayne and his Wood Brothers Ford.
Michael Waltrip, making only his second start of the 2011 season, was 12th-fastest in his self-owned Toyota. He led the go-or-go-home contingent. Also making the field on speed were Joe Nemechek, Travis Kvapil, Kevin Conway, Steve Park, Dave Blaney, and Andy Lally. Mike Skinner had the eighth-fastest time among the go-or-go-home cars, but because BIll Elliott required use of a past-champion's provisional to get Dusty Whitney's No. 46 Chevrolet into the field, Skinner failed to qualify along with Tony Raines and Michael McDowell.
Elliott, running this week in place of Whitney Motorsports' regular driver, J.J. Yeley, had the slowest time of the 46 cars at 169.983 MPH.