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Talladega qualifying rained out; Almirola on pole
TALLADEGA, ALA. (AP) - Aric Almirola has a fast car.
Turns out, he’s a pretty good weather forecaster, too.
So they hooked up in the draft with the idea of putting up a fast time. The strategy worked to perfection _ Almirola posted a blistering lap of exactly 202 mph, Ambrose was third at 201.876, and the rain came on Saturday.
Jeff Burton will start from the outside of the front row based on a speed of 201.987.
“We knew there was a small chance for rain,” Almirola said. “We thought it would be a good idea to put up a good lap, just in case it did rain. We had a plan, we stuck to it and it worked out. Anytime you can start up front under any circumstances, that’s a good thing.”
Almirola’s only previous pole was for the 600-miler at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May 2012.
He wound up finishing 16th.
NASCAR sent out its high-powered dryer in an attempt to get qualifying in, but the rain didn’t let up in time. A truck race was scheduled for the afternoon and there are no lights at the massive 2.66-mile trioval. Qualifying for the spring race at Talladega also was rained out.
Even though Almirola lucked into this pole position to some extent, it was still a bittersweet moment for a team still reeling from the loss of crew chief Todd Parrott. He was indefinitely suspended this week by NASCAR for violation of its substance-abuse policy.
“It was not something we expected by any means. It’s definitely something that caught us all off guard,” Almirola said. “Todd Parrott is a good person, a good crew chief and a good friend of mine. A lot of people are rallying around him to get through this difficult time. But we still have a job to do. We’ve got to go out and race and do the best we can.”
He won’t return to the No. 31 car next year.
By Tammy Bruce
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