Busch earns Ken­tucky pole with track-record speed

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Kyle Busch set a track record to earn his first Ken­tucky Speed­way pole be­fore thun­der­storms short­ened NASCAR Cup Se­ries qual­i­fy­ing on Fri­day. Busch, a two-time win­ner of Satur­day night’s 400mile race, clocked 190.282 mph in the No. 18 Toy­ota for his third pole this sea­son and 22nd of his ca­reer. Third in points, the Joe Gibbs Rac­ing driver seeks his first Cup vic­tory since last sum­mer at In­di­anapo­lis.

Martin Truex Jr. will start second with Busch’s JGR team­mate Matt Kenseth third as Toy­otas claimed four of the top five spots in the 40-car field. Jamie McMur­ray (189.713) starts fourth in a Chevy with JGR’s Denny Ham­lin (189.687) next.

The pole was the second of two Busch claimed on Fri­day; he also earned the top spot for the Xfin­ity Se­ries race. Busch was pre­par­ing for the third and fi­nal round of qual­i­fy­ing be­fore NASCAR of­fi­cials abruptly can­celled the seg­ment and post­poned the Xfin­ity Se­ries race to­day at noon be­cause of the threat­en­ing weather sys­tem. He smiled as he climbed out of his car to a sud­den­lyfree evening, rest that will cer­tainly be needed to han­dle a dou­ble-duty Satur­day for the second week­end in a row.

The good news is he’ll have a prime start­ing spot for both events in the lat­est chap­ter of his Ken­tucky dom­i­nance. “The guys have done an amaz­ing job this year at build­ing faster race cars as we’ve gone on this year,” Busch said of his JGR team. “We started out a lit­tle be­hind. Just right there, so close hav­ing an op­por­tu­nity to win each and ev­ery week, we just need to bust through and get it to hap­pen.”

Con­trast­ing Kyle Busch’s good day was one that se­ries points leader Kyle Lar­son would like to for­get. Af­ter hav­ing one of the fastest cars dur­ing both rounds of prac­tice, Lar­son didn’t get to prove it in qual­i­fy­ing af­ter his No. 42 Chevy failed in­spec­tion. He didn’t know what the is­sue was and is left to pre­pare to start last in 40th.

“We will be fine from the back,” Lar­son said. “Ob­vi­ously, it will be hard to pass, but we also thought the same thing at Texas and we didn’t get to qual­ify there and I cruised right to the front no prob­lem. So, we will see.”

OTHER QUAL­I­FY­ING NOTES FORD’S FOURSOME:

Ford placed four cars in the top 11 with Ryan Blaney and Kevin Har­vick start­ing sixth and sev­enth re­spec­tively while de­fend­ing race win­ner Brad Ke­selowski and Clint Bowyer are 1011. Though Ke­selowski’s spot is his low­est in seven starts, the three-time Ken­tucky win­ner gained his first win here from the eighth po­si­tion in 2012. That might pro­vide some hope af­ter an ef­fort he felt could have been bet­ter.

“It was just OK to­day, Ke­selowski said. “We re­ally worked hard to get the most we could out of it. The guys did a nice job chas­ing it but we just needed some more. Un­for­tu­nately we didn’t get a chance to get that last round in.”

BET­TER THAN EX­PECTED

Dale Earn­hardt Jr. qual­i­fied 13th for his fi­nal Ken­tucky start and seemed fine with that af­ter strug­gling early on.

“I didn’t an­tic­i­pate do­ing well,” he said. “But they worked on the car and they made a lot of ad­just­ments, and we kept go­ing out there and mak­ing runs and ended up in the top 15. So, I’m pretty happy with that. We al­most made it into the top 12 with­out even mak­ing a mock run in prac­tice.”

COLLATERAL DAM­AGE

The rain came fast and fu­ri­ous, flood­ing parts of the garage area with sev­eral inches of wa­ter. One sur­prise ca­su­alty was the Toy­ota Camry pace car, which had wa­ter lap­ping at the bot­tom of the doors. A track me­dia rep­re­sen­ta­tive quickly moved the car to higher ground and sug­gested that it would be ready for tonight. Crew mem­bers and spec­ta­tors mean­while waded through the area ei­ther by rolling up pants or just deal­ing with wet clothes. —AP

—AFP

SPARTA: Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Snick­ers Toy­ota, poses for a photo af­ter win­ning the pole award dur­ing qual­i­fy­ing for the Mon­ster En­ergy NASCAR Cup Se­ries Quaker State 400 pre­sented by Ad­vance Auto Parts at Ken­tucky Speed­way on Fri­day in Sparta, Ken­tucky.

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