Bristol, TN (Sports Network) - Persistent rain at Bristol Motor Speedway forced NASCAR to cancel Friday's qualifying session for the Irwin Tools Night Race.
A severe thunderstorm moved over the 0.533-mile racetrack moments prior to the start of qualifying, which was scheduled to start at 5:00 p.m. (ET). NASCAR officials made the decision to call off the session at 6:25 p.m.
Casey Mears was surprisingly the fastest in the first practice held earlier in the day. Therefore, Mears will start on the pole per NASCAR's rule book on determining the starting field when qualifying is canceled.
Brad Keselowski, who has won the last two Sprint Cup Series races at Bristol, will start alongside Mears on the front row. Greg Biffle will start third, followed by Joey Logano and Aric Almirola.
Jeff Burton, Paul Menard, Denny Hamlin, Marcos Ambrose and Kyle Busch will roll off sixth through 10th, respectively.
Jimmie Johnson will start 37th after struggling in practice. Danica Patrick also had difficulties in practice, as she had the slowest speed among the 47 drivers on the track. Patrick earned the last starting position since her No. 10 Tommy Baldwin Racing team is currently 33rd in owner points.
Scott Speed, Kelly Bires, Reed Sorenson and J.J. Yeley did not qualify.
Saturday's 500-lap race at Bristol is scheduled to start just after 7:30 p.m. (ET).