Casey Mears will start Saturday night’s Sprint Cup Race at Bristol Motor Speedway from the pole due to a rules change for rainouts in qualifying.
The 34-year old nephew of four time Indy 500 winner, Rick Mears, was fastest in the first practice session which now determines grid positions when qualifying is washed out. Under the previous rule, in the case of rainouts, the starting grid was determined by points standings.
It’s his fourth career pole, but, does not earn him a spot in February’s Shoot Out because he didn’t “win” the pole.
“This is exciting for our Geico team and a shot in the arm, for sure,” said Mears, who drives a Ford for the small Germain Racing team.
“Starting up front here at Bristol is always a good thing. It gives us a big head start from where we've been in the past. You never want to win a pole like this, but we'll take it. Everybody in that first session wanted to run the fastest to get a late draw for qualifying.
“Everybody goes out there with the same mindset--to be fast so we get a late qualifying draw--so we feel good about what we've done.”
Since joining Germain in August of 2010 his best finish was 15th this year at Sonoma.
Brad Keselowski, coming off wins in the previous two Cup races at the half-mile oval known as the Concrete Coliseum will start second in a Dodge.
Series points leader, Greg Biffle, goes off third in a Ford alongside the Toyota of Joey Logano.
Danica Patrick will start 43rd.
Scott Speed, Kelly Bires, J.J. Yeley and Reed Sorenson were actually faster than some otherwise qualified cars but didn't make the field because they're not top-35 in owner points which cars are locked into a starting spot.