CONCORD, N.C. – Clint Bowyer topped Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race qualifying for the first time in his career on Friday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway, setting himself up in the best possible position to chase the $1 million top prize.
Bowyer mastered the unique All-Star qualifying format, which features three timed laps around the 1.5-mile quad-oval broken up by a four-tire pit stop, with a cumulative time of 1:58.794.
The average speed of Bowyer’s run in the No. 14 Toco Warranty Corp. Ford Mustang was 136.371 mph.
Friday marked both the first All-Star pole for Bowyer and the first All-Star pole for Stewart-Haas Racing, though the organization did start first in the 2016 All-Star Race with Kevin Harvick after qualifying was canceled due to rain.
Though it’s not a points-paying pole award, it was Bowyer’s first pole of any kind in Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competition since September of 2007 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
“What that means is hell has frozen over, right?” Bowyer joked after his run. “I don’t know what happened; I think my throttle stuck or something. I’m proud of the guys, though. Our car was extremely fast on lap speed and the launch. I actually didn’t get on pit road nearly as well as I wanted to, though. I had my dead-set line that I wasn’t lifting until … but after I screwed up the entry I drove past that line.
“I’m sure everyone saw my eyes get a little bit bigger … but the pit crew did a great job and it all came together for us,” Bowyer added. “I hope Marcus Smith knows how bad I want to win tomorrow night and take his million dollars, because I’m coming for it and this is a great start toward that payday.”
Kyle Busch, a three-time All-Star Race polesitter, will join Bowyer on the front row Saturday night after posting the second-fastest aggregate time of 1:58.971 (136.168 mph) with the No. 18 Toyota Camry.
Defending All-Star Race winner Kevin Harvick starts third alongside Austin Dillon, with Martin Truex Jr. completing the top five.
Ryan Newman rolls off sixth, followed by Erik Jones, Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano.
Both Brad Keselowski and Kurt Busch incurred five-second penalties for having one unsecured lug nut during post-qualifying inspection. They will start 14th and 15th, respectively, in Saturday’s race.
A total of 19 drivers will take the green flag for the 85-lap event. The final four starting positions will be filled by the three stage winners from the Monster Energy Open and the Fan Vote recipient.
Below are the results from qualifying for the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race.
- #14 – Clint Bowyer, 1:58.794 (136.371 mph)
- #18 – Kyle Busch, 1:58.971 (136.168 mph)
- #4 – Kevin Harvick, 1:59.058 (136.068 mph)
- #3 – Austin Dillon, 1:59.314 (135.776 mph)
- #19 – Martin Truex Jr., 2:00.334 (134.625 mph)
- #6 – Ryan Newman, 2:00.383 (134.570 mph)
- #20 – Erik Jones, 2:00.405 (134.546 mph)
- #48 – Jimmie Johnson, 2:00.660 (134.262 mph)
- #12 – Ryan Blaney, 2:00.892 (134.004 mph)
- #22 – Joey Logano, 2:01.584 (133.241 mph)
- #9 – Chase Elliott, 2:01.978 (132.811 mph)
- #11 – Denny Hamlin, 2:02.125 (132.651 mph)
- #10 – Aric Almirola, 2:03.814 (130.841 mph)
- #2 – Brad Keselowski, 2:04.059 (130.583 mph) [5 second penalty for one loose lug nut]
- #1 – Kurt Busch, 2:08.176 (126.389 mph) [5 second penalty for one loose lug nut]