Fans can help Marcos Ambrose pay Richmond fine forward to Victory Junction

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A lot of NASCAR fans showed sympathy and a willingness to help Marcos Ambrose pay the $25,000 fine he got from NASCAR after he punched Casey Mears at Richmond International Raceway.

Inspired by the support, Ambrose and his Richard Petty Motorsports team have proposed another idea.

Since Ambrose did not win in 2013 and hasn’t won this season, he hasn’t yet locked himself into the field for the 2014 Sprint All-Star Race on May 17 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

He has three ways to change that: Win the 5-Hour Energy 400 this Saturday night at Kansas Speedway (where he finished ninth last fall), come home first or second in the Sprint Showdown prelim that precedes the All-Star Race, or have the fans vote him into the main event.

And should he get there, Ambrose has vowed to donate $25,000 to the Victory Junction Camp for children with serious illnesses. The Camp was created by Kyle Petty and his wife, Pattie, in honor of their late son, Adam.

“I had a tremendous outpouring of support after Richmond from so many fans,” Ambrose said in a statement. “But, that situation was between myself and another driver. I had to pay the consequences from that and my fans had nothing to do with what happened.

“But, they have been so supportive of me in NASCAR, that maybe there was something we could do so they could make a difference. If they want to support me, they can vote for me and we’ll take the total of the fine and pay it forward to Victory Junction.”

Fans can vote for Ambrose (or another driver not yet in the All-Star field) via the NASCAR Mobile app, whose votes will count for double. Additionally, fans can vote online and at the track. Voting will close on May 16, the day before the All-Star Race.

Josef Newgarden wins pole for Grand Prix of Alabama

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With time running off the clock, Josef Newgarden lapped Barber Motorsports Park with a speed of 122.773 mph to win his third career pole and first on this track in the Grand Prix of Alabama.

Newgarden was .0128 seconds faster than teammate Scott Dixon in second.

Newgarden has two previous wins at Barber. He won last year’s edition of this race after starting seventh and in 2015 from fifth.

“I didn’t know if that was going to be enough,” Newgarden said after winning the pole.

“Team Chevy has done a good job,” Newgarden said. “They’ve really given us good power this weekend – good driveability. We’re going to need some fuel mileage tomorrow, which I think we’ll have. But it’s going to get mixed up with the rain.”

Dixon’s lap of 122.750 mph was not quite enough.

“I’m sure you could pick out a number of different things on a lap when it’s that close,” Power said about what made the slight difference between him and Newgarden. “A little mistake out of 9; a little lift here or there.”

Sebastien Bourdais (122.605 mph) qualified third, with Ryan Hunter-Reay (122.159) and James Hinchliffe (121.859) rounding out the top five.

Scott Dixon was the last driver in the top six.

Fast 12

Newgarden topped this chart with a speed of 123.475 mph.

He brought Power, James Hinchcliffe, Scott Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Sebastien Bourdais along with him to the Fast 6.

Marco Andretti (122.480), Alexander Rossi (122.216), Simon Pagenaud (122.050), Robert Wickens (122.042), Zach Veach (121.784) and Ed Jones (120.984) failed to advance.

Round 1, Group 1

Newgarden posted the fastest single lap in round one, group one of qualification for the Grand Prix of Alabama with a speed of 122.550 mph.

Hunter-Reay, Hinchcliffe, Wickens, and Andretti also advance to the fast 12.

Taking the final slot was Jones with a speed of 119.835 mph after an off-course excursion in final practice.

This was Andretti’s first advancement to the fast 12 for the first time since 2014.

Round 1, Group 2

Power had the fastest lap of 121.570 mph.

Bourdais, Veach (who is battling food poisoning-like symptoms), Rossi, and Pagenaud grabbed positions 2-4.

Scott Dixon had an uncharacteristically slow lap of 121.006, but managed to advance to the fast 12 when the session was red-flagged for an incident involving Tony Kanaan.

With three minutes remaining, Kanaan spun into the tire barriers while leaving pit road. Since he brought out the red flag, he lost his qualification time of 119.996 mph.

Takuma Sato had slipped off-course midway through the session and posted only the Ninth-fastest speed of 120.789 mph.