Vickers Rolls to Pole for Auto Club 500

Mike JonesCorrespondent IFebruary 20, 2009

At the beginning of the week, Brian Vickers was dealing with media from all angles about his tangle with Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the Daytona 500. Five days later, Vickers is still dealing with the media, except now he's answering questions about winning a pole position.

With a speed of 183.439 mph, Vickers, driving the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota, beat out Jimmie Johnson for the pole for Sunday's Auto Club 500 at Auto Club Raceway in Fontana, Calif. The pole was the sixth of his career.

The pole came as a little of a surprise, as Vickers was fourth of 49 cars to qualify in the field. Even as the temperatures dropped when the sun went down, no one could put up as strong a lap as Vickers.

Johnson came close, missing out by four-hundreths of a second. Behind Johnson was Jamie McMurray (183.164 mph) in the No. 26 Roush-Fenway Ford, Kurt Busch (182.556) in the No. 2 Penske Dodge, and Greg Biffle (182.302 mph) in the No. 16 Roush-Fenway Ford.

AJ Allmendinger continued his impressive early season, qualifying eighth (182.048 mph) in the No. 44 Petty Motorsports entry. Rookie Scott Speed, Vickers' teammate, qualified the No. 82 Red Bull Toyota in the ninth spot (181.965 mph), the highest-placing rookie.

Toyota cars swept four of the top 10 qualifying positions, as David Reutimann (seventh, 182.089 mph) and Kyle Busch (10th, 181.919 mph) accompanied the Red Bull teammates in the top 10.