Tony Stewart wins Sprint Cup pole

Aug. 31, 2012 at 8:58 PM

ATLANTA, Aug. 31 (UPI) -- Tony Stewart, the defending Sprint Cup Series champion, won his first pole of the year Friday by turning in the fastest qualifying lap for the AdvoCare 500.

Stewart traveled around the Atlanta Motor Speedway in 186.121 miles per hour. It was his 14th career pole and his first since last October in Charlotte, N.C.

Current points leader Greg Biffle had the second-fastest qualifying time, followed by Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth and Jeff Gordon.

The rest of the Top 10 included Mark Martin, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano and Marcos Ambrose. Hamlin won last week's race in Bristol, Tenn.

Danica Patrick turned in her career best qualifying effort in the Sprint Cup Series and will start 23rd in the field of 43. This will be her fifth start in the series.

Sunday's race will be the next-to-last before the start of the Chase for the Championship. Only Biffle, Johnson and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., have clinched a spot in the 12-driver field that will compete for the Sprint Cup title.

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