Biffle finds speed to take pole at Darlington

By NASCAR Wire Service

May 11, 2012 11:41 PM, EDT

DARLINGTON, S.C. — After a stellar qualifying run, Jimmie Johnson said there was some speed left in Darlington Raceway — and Greg Biffle found it.

Biffle toured the 1.366-mile Lady in Black in
27.281 seconds (180.2557 mph) to win the pole for Saturday night’s
Bojangles’ Southern 500, beating second-place starter Johnson and
third-place Kasey Kahne by .105 seconds.

Bojangles’ Southern 500

Pos. Driver Speed Time
1. G. Biffle 180.257 27.281
2. J. Johnson 179.566 27.386
3. K. Kahne 179.566 27.386
4. R. Newman 179.461 27.402
5. Ky. Busch 179.448 27.404

Race Lineup

Biffle, who posted back-to-back wins at
Darlington in 2005 and 2006, snagged his second Coors Light Pole Award
of the season, his second at the Lady in Black and the 11th of his

“This is what a race car driver looks forward
to, showing up every weekend and having a really fast car to drive,”
said Biffle, the Sprint Cup Series leader. “They’re making me look good
so far.

“It was a pretty uneventful lap. The car just
had a ton of grip — it stuck to the race track really, really well. I
felt like I was a little bit light down in Turns 1 and 2 — I should
have been a little bit quicker down there — but I got a lot out of it
in 3 and 4, so it was a great lap.”

Johnson and Kahne ran identical speeds (179.566
mph), with Johnson winning the front-row starting spot from his Hendrick
Motorsports teammate on an owner points tiebreaker. Ryan Newman (179.461 mph) qualified fourth, followed by Kyle Busch (179.448 mph).

Johnson said his car was comfortable — perhaps too much so in Turns 3 and 4 of the qualifying lap.

“I knew I left a little time on the table down there, and Greg went out and found it,” Johnson said.

Danica Patrick
qualified 38th at 175.497 mph for her Cup debut at Darlington, picking
up approximately .75 seconds from her fastest lap in practice. The
Southern 500 will be Patrick’s second Cup race and her first in a Cup
car with an open motor.

But it’s all part of the trial-by-fire approach to a 10-race schedule she developed with team owner Tony Stewart.

“We definitely struggled in the Cup car [in
practice],” Patrick said. “But this was the plan, to do it difficult,
and this is one of the places that would really challenge me . . .

“I felt better in qualifying. I ran three quarters of a
second quicker than I did in practice. For me, usually if I stink during
practice, I don’t usually find a lot in qualifying.”

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