Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver AJ Allmendinger will start 16th in Saturday night’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 here at Darlington Raceway after turning in a lap of 27.506 seconds (178.783 mph) in today’s qualifying session. Dinger is looking for a solid run on this tough old 1.366-mile egg-shaped oval.
“Our Dodge was a little bit loose,” Allmendinger offered. “I don’t think we had a pole car but we had better than a 16th-place car. I wish I could hit the reset button and redo that lap. I came to the green okay, got into one good and then I just got too low, too early and just completely messed the rest of the corner up. Got through three and it was really loose in three so I think we lost a little bit of time there. Wish I could do it over again. That was on me.”
Greg Biffle claimed the Coors Light Pole Award with the fast lap of 27.281 seconds (180.257 mph). Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne ran the exact same time (27.386 seconds/179.566 mph), with Johnson getting the second starting spot due to current car owner points. Ryan Newman (lap of 27.402 seconds/179.461 mph) will start fourth and Kyle Busch (27.404 seconds/179.448 mph) starts fifth.
Martin Truex Jr., Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Regan Smith and Jeff Burton rounded out today’s top-10 qualifiers. Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski starts his Miller Lite Dodge just in front of Dinger, claiming the 15th starting spot with his lap of 27.500 seconds (178.822 mph).
Even though Allmendinger wanted more during Friday’s action here at Darlington, he knows he has a fast Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger for Saturday’s battle.
“We’ve had a really good day,” Dinger said. “The Shell-Pennzoil Dodge has been quick. The race trim was good, the Q-runs were good and as much as you try to think positive and think okay, let’s go out there and put a good lap in, it crept in the back of my mind we haven’t put anything wrong with this car yet. There’s no stripes, everything looks solid, the last thing you want to do is bounce it off the wall before you start this race. It’s a tough place. You look at the lap times and they’re so close. Just wish I could do it over again. It’s a long race and honestly starting 16th isn’t the worst thing in the world. I’m just mad at myself. I always want perfection and I’m nowhere close to that but we deserved a better qualifying run. If the car is as good as it was today we can go to the front and we’ve got 500 miles.”
Saturday’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 (367 laps, 501.3 miles) has a 7:00 p.m. EDT starting time and features live coverage by FOX-TV and MRN Radio (also on Sirius-XM NASCAR Channel 90 and streaming live at www.motorracingnetwork.com.)