For the first time since July 2007, a Georgia native will lead the field to the green flag in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event. For the first time in the modern-era, that Georgia native has a Georgia-based sponsor on his race car.
David Ragan, of Unadilla, snared his first-career pole at Texas Motor Speedway last evening, nipping teammate Carl Edwards for the top spot in tonight's Samsung Mobile 500 (7:30 p.m. on FOX). United Parcel Service is the primary sponsor of Ragan's No. 6 Roush-Fenway Racing Ford, making his effort doubly exciting for Peach State race fans.
The last Georgian to snare a pole position was Reed Sorenson of Peachtree City, who took the top spot for the 2007 Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Legendary Bill Elliott has 55 career poles, while the late Tim Flock had 38 top qualifying efforts in the 1950s.
Ragan is just the second Georgia native to compete at NASCAR's top level with a major home state sponsor. Buckshot Jones spent just over one season driving Richard Petty's No. 44 Dodge in the early 2000s with Georgia Pacific sponsorship, but never cracked the top-ten in qualifying or race results before being dropped in April 2002.
After Ragan and Edwards, the top five was filled out by Clint Bowyer, Matt Kenseth in another Roush-Fenway Ford, and Regan Smith. In the six timed qualifying sessions this year, Smith has four top-fives, a tenth, and a 12th. He also started fifth in the Daytona 500 thanks to his runner-up finish in his Gatorade Duel.
The rest of the top-ten was rounded out by Jimmie Johnson, Marcos Ambrose, Joey Logano, Greg Biffle in the fourth and final Roush-Fenway machine, and Kurt Busch. Point leader Kyle Busch will start 11th.
Denny Hamlin, winner of both Texas races last year, start's 23rd, while Dale Earnhardt Jr., rolls off 28th as he looks to snap a 99-race winless streak at the race where he snagged his first career victory in April 2000.
See the entire starting grid at Jayski.com.