Clint Bowyer wins pole over Kyle Busch for All-Star Race

Jim Utter

Posting some of the fastest speeds on the track during Friday night’s unique qualifying format, Bowyer won the pole for Saturday night’s Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Bowyer only has two “official poles” in his nearly 12-year Cup career, both coming in the 2007 season.

Bowyer completed the three-lap qualifying process that included a four-tire pit stop with an average lap speed of 136.371 mph, after registering the fastest speeds of any driver on the first and third laps of the run.

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"Hell has frozen over," a surprised Bowyer said after qualifying. "It's so easy to make mistakes in that because it's so out of the ordinary of what we usually do. I actually didn't get on pit road near as good as I wanted to.

"I had my dead-set line that I was going to get to and would lift (off the accelerator) at and when I didn't get on pit road like I needed to, I drove past that and I was like, 'Oh no, I'm going to get stuck' and my eyes were getting bigger.

"My guys did a good job on pit road. They've been doing a good job all year. It's been a lot of fun. Our Fords have been extremely fast but we haven't gotten them in Victory Lane like we'd like to yet but we're knocking on the door.

"Who knows? I just saw (track owner) Marcus Smith. I said, 'You know how bad I want to send your million dollars? I want to win that million dollars.' I'm going to take his million dollars tomorrow night!"

Kyle Busch ended up second (136.268 mph) and Bowyer’s Stewart-Haas Racing teammate, Kevin Harvick was third (136.068 mph). Austin Dillon was fourth and Martin Truex Jr. completed the top-five.

The remaining order of the drivers already qualified for the All-Star Race: Ryan Newman, Erik Jones, Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Aric Almirola, Brad Keselowski and Kurt Busch.

The all-star qualifying format featuring no pit road speed provided its usual entertaining moments.

Logano overshot his pit stall while making his stop while Blaney actually slowed first into the stall before his correct one. Almirola also overshot his pit stall while making his stop.

Keselowski received a 5-second penalty for having one unsecured lug nut following his qualifying run, as did Kurt Busch, whose team elected to change right-side tires first unlike everyone else.

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