Busch sets track record, Truex 2nd
SPARTA, KY.» 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 400-mile 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.
Furniture Row Racing’s Erik Jones qualified 14th.
The pole was the second of two Busch claimed on Friday; he also earned the top spot for the Xfinity Series race.
Xfinity Series event postponed.
NASCAR postponed Friday’s Xfinity Series event at Kentucky Speedway after severe thunderstorms threatened the area shortly before the green flag.
The postponement followed Thursday night’s rain-delayed Camping World Truck Series race that began three hours late and concluded early Friday morning. Cup series qualifying had just concluded its second round Friday evening before dark clouds gathered over the track and led officials to cancel that session and quickly postpone the Xfinity race to Saturday at 10 a.m..
Busch ran a fast lap of 181.935 mph to top Erik Jones, who clocked 181.635 mph to earn the second spot.
Kenseth likely done at Joe Gibbs Racing.
NASCAR driver Matt Kenseth said Friday he has no job lined up next year and likely has no future at Joe Gibbs Racing.
“I’m not really worried about it but as of today, I do not have a job for next year. Hope to still be racing,” Kenseth said at Kentucky Speedway. “I think I got some wins left in me and hopefully race for championships. Right now, I’m focusing on finishing up this year.”
Kenseth is the 2003 champion and twotime Daytona 500 winner. He is in his fifth season driving for Gibbs and his 18th overall.
But, he does not believe returning to the No. 20 Toyota is an option for 2018. Erik Jones is likely going to be moved into that car from Furniture Row Racing, Gibbs’ sister team.
“I do not think I will have the option to return to race at JGR next year. Unfortunately,” he said.
One possibility is replacing Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Hendrick Motorsports — or even sliding into the No. 5 should Rick Hendrick decide to release Kasey Kahne. But, a slot at Hendrick may not be a slamdunk. Kenseth is 45 and would likely be a place-filler until a younger driver is ready and that could be sooner rather than later.