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Kahne leads Chase drivers in Talladega qualifying

Associated Press Modified: October 6, 2012 at 3:16 pm •  Published: October 6, 2012
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"I've been crashed here more than not, so we're going to go out there and race," he said. "We're going to have fun and we're going to try to stay up front and lead some laps and hopefully be around at the end. I've crashed here going for the lead and I've been crashed here trying to ride around in the back. So there's no safe place."

Michael Waltrip was 11th and followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr., as two drivers who once dominated restrictor-plate races will start side-by-side on Sunday.

In all, Chase drivers took six of the top-10 starting spots. The other half of the Chase field is spread out all the way down to 23rd, which is where Denny Hamlin will go off on Sunday.

Matt Kenseth was 15th, Jimmie Johnson 17th, Kevin Harvick 21st and leader Keselowski 22nd.

But Keselowski, who won at Talladega in the spring by leading the last lap, wasn't worried about his starting position.

"I think we've proven that the only lap that matters is the last one," Keselowski said. "Things happen so late in the race that even the best strategy can get thrown out the window. I just want to be there with five laps to go."

Johnson, who has failed to finish the three previous plate races this season, said his strategy is simple.

"Don't crash," he said. "Whatever increases my chances of not crashing. There really isn't a rhyme or reason to that."

Bowyer cautioned that too much strategy can hurt a driver, and the best plan is to just go with the flow of the race and try to hold on until the end.

"The biggest thing you don't want to do is get caught up in a wreck early," he said. "It doesn't matter what happens, what your strategy is, if you qualify up front you need to stay up front.

"Even if you're up front and you find yourself shuffled back in the pack, get out of there. Get to the back. Especially these guys who are racing for a championship.

"There's a tremendous amount of guys on different strategies all across the board. So many different agendas out there. Us Chase guys, I would say, got to play it relatively safe. If you don't, you get caught up in a wreck before halfway."