Smoke did rise, at least to the top of the leader board. After a Sprint Car accident in which he broke his leg, the mantra of Tony Stewart or Smoke’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team has been “Smoke will rise.” Saturday at the Texas Motor Speedway, Stewart won his first pole since returning to the track.
"This thing is fast. It was good in the first run, and in the second run it was pretty good and we were second and we ran a little bit quicker,” said Stewart. “We didn't know what we could run this third time, but I knew what (Greg) Biffle had run. The good thing is Chad Johnston (crew chief) made a really big change there to try and make it better.”
Brad Keselwosi will start second, followed by Kevin Harvick, Biffle and Carl Edwards. Joey Logano, who is the only driver to make the final round of knockout qualifying in each of this seasons six races under the new format, will start 10th.
Kansas native Clint Bowyer struggled to find speed, just missed advancing in knockout qualifying and will start 25th.
“One spot,” said Bowyer. “That’s it and we would have made the next round. I made a second lap and I ran the exact same lap time. Just a bummer we didn’t make it to the next round. We’ve been good on long runs this weekend so we’ll be ok for tomorrow. Just wish we had a little better starting spot for our Willie’s Duck Diner Toyota.”