FORT WORTH, Texas – Nextel Cup rookie AJ Allmendinger was fast in practice Friday, and again when it counted during qualifying at Texas.
With a fast lap of 192.239 mph, only a bit higher than his practice speed, Allmendinger qualified fifth for Sunday’s Dickies 500. It is his best career starting position in a Cup race, the first time he has been in the top 10.
Allmendinger failed to qualify in 17 of the first 33 races this season, including the spring race at the 11/2-mile Texas track in April.
But Allmendinger has made the 43-car field in four straight races and nine of the last 11. He is coming off a 16th-place finish at Atlanta, a 11/2-mile track similar to Texas, and had a career-best 15th-place showing three weeks ago at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.
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The best starting spot for Allmendinger had been 11th at Dover, but that didn’t translate into something good. He completed only four laps in the Red Bull Toyota that day before an engine problem ended his race and he finished last.