Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports
On Friday afternoon the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualified for the Food City 500 In Support Of Steve Byrnes And Stand Up To Cancer from Bristol Motor Speedway. When qualifying was all said and done it was Joe Gibbs Racing that showed the speed. Matt Kenseth took the pole while teammate Carl Edwards qualified in third. In between Kenseth and Edwards on the grid is Brad Keselowski while Kevin Harvick qualified fourth and Denny Hamlin rounded out top-five as the third JGR car in the front three row.
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Here are some quick thoughts and takeaways from Friday’s qualifying session:
- Hello Joe Gibbs Racing – After last weekend in which the JGR bunch seemed a bit lackluster in qualifying, they all stepped it up this weekend. As mentioned above; Kenseth, Edwards and Hamlin will all start inside of the top-five. The fourth JGR car in David Ragan will take the green flag from the 11th-position. Friday was a nice day for JGR but having all of them finish inside of the top-10 will make for an even better day and end to the weekend on Sunday.
- Where have all the HMS Cars gone? – Friday was not a good day for Team Hendrick. Jimmie Johnson did not make it out of the first round of qualifying. In the second round Jeff Gordon had a car that couldn’t do much of anything which makes you wonder how he even posted a decent time in the first round. Johnson will start 28th while Gordon will start 23rd. Dale Earnhardt Jr. also didn’t make it out of the second round but he will start 13th which isn’t too shabby. The bright spot on Friday for Team Hendrick was Kasey Kahne who will start eighth on Sunday.
- So much for RFR’s bounce-back – Last weekend all three RFR drivers made it out of the first round of qualifying for the first time in 2015. This week none of them made it out of the first round. Trevor Bayne will start 31st and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will start 25th. Greg Biffle who spun in the opening round of qualifying will start 33rd on Sunday.
- Penske stays strong – Penske is good at qualifying, period. On Friday that was the case once again as both the No. 2 and the No. 22 will be starting inside of the top-10. Nothing all that new here folks.
- Props to the smaller teams – While race day might not end well for the smaller teams, a few of them go their weekend off to a great start. Michael McDowell (19th), Landon Cassill (17th) and Justin Allgair (15th) all qualified inside of the top-20.
- No rain, let’s keep it that way – Rain was not even in the discussion on Friday which is good seeing as how there was only a 30 percent chance for the day and a 10 percent chance for the early evening. Sunday could be a different story though as there is a 70 percent chance during the afternoon and an 80 percent chance around the 2:00 PM mark.
- Those who needed a boost didn’t get it – Clint Bowyer, Greg Biffle and Tony Stewart all could have used a boost as they have each struggled this season. Friday during qualifying was not the time to find that boost as Stewart in 21st was the highest qualifier out of the three.