NASCAR at Atlanta 2019 Qualifying Results: Aric Almirola Wins Pole Position

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 22, 2019

HAMPTON, GA - FEBRUARY 22:  Aric Almirola, driver of the #10 Smithfield Ford, practices for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Folds of Honor Quiktrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 22, 2019 in Hampton, Georgia.  (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Aric Almirola secured the pole position for Sunday's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 after posting the best time in the final round of qualifying Thursday at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will also break from the front row. Clint Bowyer and Denny Hamlin are on Row 2 for the second race of the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season.

Almirola picks up his first pole of the campaign and second of his career. The last came in 2012.

Here's a look at the top 10 starters for Sunday's race (via NASCAR.com):

1. Aric Almirola (10)

2. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (17)

3. Clint Bowyer (14)

4. Denny Hamlin (11)

5. Daniel Suarez (41)

6. Kyle Busch (18)

7. Kyle Larson (42)

8. Kurt Busch (1)

9. Martin Truex Jr. (19)

10. Austin Dillon (3)

The Cup Series kicked off the 2019 season last weekend with Hamlin winning the Daytona 500 for the second time. He said the victory takes a huge burden off the team's shoulders for Atlanta and beyond after capturing the checkered flag for the first time in his last 48 starts, per Bob Pockrass of USA Today.

"Certainly, you hate the (questions)—it's just winless season, winless season, winless season, winless season," Hamlin said. "It's just like, 'Yes I know.' … Now we can go this year and be relaxed and not have it hanging overhead. It's about going out there and doing your job and winning a bunch of races."

Meanwhile, Almirola failed to capitalize on starting eighth at Daytona as he finished 32nd in that race.

The 34-year-old Florida native's attempt at a bounce-back performance in the season's second race is bolstered by the pole, but his track record at Atlanta isn't strong. He's recorded a single top-10 finish in eight career starts with an average finish of 18.5.

Past performance aside, Almirola was better than a mile-per-hour faster than his closest competition in the last round of qualifying, which gives his car a lot of potential heading into Sunday.

The rest of the field was much closer bunched together, with the other 11 cars who reached the last stage separated by just over 1 mph.

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