Tony Stewart takes first pole of season in Atlanta

From the frustrations of Bristol, Tony Stewart sure has come back swinging in Atlanta.

For the first time in the 2012 season, Stewart will start on the pole after taking the top spot in qualifying for Sunday’s AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Stewart, who was the second-to-last car to take time in the session, won the pole with an unconventional flying lap around the top-side of the 1.5-mile speedway.

“I guess it’s proof that all those nights that we show up at Eldora (Ohio) late and have to get in the car with no practice and have to run around the top pays off,” said Stewart after his qualifying lap.

“That lap is 100 percent due to Ryan Newman. He walked back down and helped us before we went out and said, ‘There’s a ton of grip up there (high side of the track), you just gotta do it’.

The pole marks the first time in Stewart’s career he has one a pole at Atlanta Motor Speedway where he is a multi-time race winner with his most recent victory coming in September, 2010.

“I was having a hard time convincing myself what I was going to be. He goes, ‘Definetly run it on the out lap in (turns) three and four, and from there to the start finish line you can make your decision.’

“It’s about two-and-one-half seconds to the start finish line. If it weren’t for him we wouldn’t be on the pole probably.”

Starting alongside Stewart for Sunday night’s race will be the Sprint Cup Series points leader, Greg Biffle.

While Stewart was strong, the fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. was anything but.

After struggling in the only Sprint Cup practice earlier in the day, Earnhardt Jr. was only able to qualify his No.88 in the 35th position for Sunday night’s race.

From posting the 42nd fastest time in practice in the afternoon, Danica Patrick didn’t expect much out of her qualifying effort.

Patrick qualified her Stewart Haas Chevrolet in the 23rd starting position, the best qualifying effort of her Sprint Cup Series career.

AdvoCare 500 Starting Lineup: 

1: Tony Stewart

2: Greg Biffle

3: Kyle Busch

4: Matt Keneth

5: Jeff Gordon

6: Mark Martin

7: Denny Hamlin

8: Jimmie Johnson

9: Joey Logano

10: Marcos Ambrose

11: Kasey Kahne

12: Carl Edwards

13: Aric Almirola

14: David Ragan

15: Sam Hornish Jr.

16: Kurt Busch

17: Paul Menard

18: Ryan Newman

19: Casey Mears

20: Jamie McMurray

21: Brad Keselowski

22: Dave Blaney

23: Danica Patrick

24: Kevin Harvick

25: Bobby Labonte

26: Jeff Burton

27: Regan Smith

28: Martin Truex Jr.

29: David Gilliland

30: Clint Bowyer

31: David Stremme

32: Trevor Bayne

33: Juan Pablo Montoya

34: Jason Leffler

35: Dale Earnhardt Jr.

36: Scott Speed

37: Joe Nemechek

38: Reed Sorenson

39: Scott Riggs

40: JJ Yeley

41: Landon Cassill

42: Travis Kvapil

43: TJ Bell