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Pressley Makes History With Bowman Gray Stadium Pole Run

Friday, June 3, 2011
Photo: Getty Images/NASCAR

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Coleman Pressley stood outside of a short track press box surrounded by history on Friday night.

Pressley's first career NASCAR K&N Pro Series East pole couldn't have come under better circumstances. It came at the venerable Bowman Gray Stadium, in the series' first trip to the tight quarter-mile bullring.

The second-generation driver will lead the field to the green in the Army Strong 150 on Saturday night.

"I was a little scared about (my lap), because we were half a second slower than we were in practice," said the 22-year-old Pressley, son of longtime Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series driver Robert Pressley. "I didn't think it was ever going to hold."

But it did, with Pressley's lap of 14.772 seconds (60.926 mph) holding off X-Team Racing teammate Matt DiBenedetto for the pole.

 

Pressley tested at the track two weeks ago, and his No. 14 AW North Carolina/Aisin Toyota was second-fastest in the more than two-hour practice session earlier in the day. He said the team never turned a wrench on the car all day.

"We'll take it." Pressley said. "I'm not a very good qualifier, but Bowman Gray is definitely going to be important to start up front."

It's important for two reasons. First is the obvious, giving the Asheville, N.C., driver his first series pole, and the second has to do with track position being so important at the track.

And when Pressley made it to the top of the tower on the frontstretch to speak with assembled media following the end of the qualifying session, the first person there to meet him was NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Junior Johnson.

"It's kind of cool to go down in the history books with as many famous names as have raced here," Pressley said. "I talked with Junior Johnson when we tested here, and he was telling all kinds of old stories. It was pretty cool.

"Hopefully, we can double-dip and get the win tomorrow."

– TB