NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

          === Biffle sets new track qualifying record at Charlotte ===
 Concord, NC (Sports Network) - Greg Biffle will start on the pole for the Bank
 of  America  500 -- the  fifth race in  the Chase for  the Sprint Cup -- after
 posting  a new  track record in Thursday night's qualifying at Charlotte Motor
 Biffle,  who  is one  of the 12  drivers in  the Chase field,  turned a lap at
 193.708  mph.  He topped  the old record  of 193.216 mph  at Charlotte, set by
 Elliott  Sadler in Oct. 2005. The Roush Fenway Racing driver claimed his third
 pole  of the season  and the 12th of his Sprint Cup Series career. It was also
 his first pole in 20 starts at this 1.5-mile racetrack.
 After the first four Chase races, Biffle sits ninth in the point standings, as
 he trails leader Brad Keselowski by 49 points.
 "We've kind of been down in the dumps a little bit, because we haven't started
 this  Chase as strong  as we've been all season, so there's been a lot of hard
 work,"  Biffle said.  "We've been at six racetracks during the past two weeks,
 between  testing  and everything we're  doing in racing.  I just got home last
 night  from  Texas (Motor  Speedway). We  learned a little  bit there that has
 helped us tonight."
 Biffle has yet to win a Sprint Cup race at Charlotte.
 Mark  Martin  earned the  outside pole  with a  lap at  193.361 mph. Martin is
 scheduled  to  make his 850th  career start in  NASCAR's premier series. He is
 driving a limited Cup schedule for Michael Waltrip Racing this year.
 "I  knew I  was flying when I went  down into (turn) one, and it was dragging,
 scraping  and smoking,  and I  was smelling  rubber from  the tires  rubbing,"
 Martin said.
 Ryan  Newman qualified  third, while Clint Bowyer, who is also a Chase driver,
 took the fourth spot.
 "This  was an  intense qualifying session right here," Bowyer said. "It was so
 much  fun. The  car was wiggling when  I was getting down there in (turns) one
 and  two, and  there's no feeling like  that in the world. It definitely wakes
 you up and gets your attention."
 Jimmie Johnson, who presently trails Keselowski by 14 points, qualified fifth.
 Title contenders Martin Truex Jr. and Matt Kenseth, who won last Sunday's race
 at  Talladega, placed  sixth and  seventh, respectively.  Kenseth also  won at
 Charlotte one year ago.
 Kyle  Busch,  Denny Hamlin  and Kasey  Kahne completed  the top-10. Hamlin and
 Kahne are in the Chase.
 The  other  Chase members and  their starting positions include: Kevin Harvick
 (11th), Jeff Gordon (13th), Keselowski (20th) and Tony Stewart (32nd).
 Earlier in the day, Dale Earnhardt Jr. revealed that he will skip at least the
 next  two races  after being diagnosed with a concussion days after Talladega,
 where  he was involved  in a 25-car wreck on the final lap. Earnhardt Jr. also
 sustained  a concussion  during a crash while testing at Kansas six weeks ago.
 He presently trails Keselowski by 51 points.
 Regan  Smith,  who is  substituting for  Earnhardt Jr. in  the No. 88 Hendrick
 Motorsports  Chevrolet,  qualified 26th. It will  be the first time since 1979
 that an Earnhardt has not competed in a Cup race.
 "I  think  the most  important thing  is that we  want to  send best wishes to
 Dale  to  get better soon," Smith  said. "I'm just  trying to fill in some big
 shoes here this weekend."
 Smith  is also  scheduled to drive Earnhardt  Jr.'s car in next week's race at
 Kurt  Busch will start  21st in his first race as driver of the No. 78 car for
 Furniture  Row Racing.  Smith had previously been behind the wheel of that car
 and  was slated to drive the No. 51 for Phoenix Racing. A.J. Allmendinger, who
 is  returning to  competition after  being suspended  for a  failed drug  test
 earlier in the season, will start 38th in the No. 51.
 Joe  Nemechek,  Josh Wise,  Scott Riggs  and Cole Whitt  failed to qualify for
 Saturday's  500-mile race at Charlotte, which is scheduled to start just after
 7:30 p.m. (ET).
 10/11 21:49:07 ET

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