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Kyle Busch Takes Record-Breaking Pole at Kentucky

Quaker State 400
Friday, July 7, 2017

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Kyle Busch won his third Coors Light Pole Award of the season
Robert Laberge/Getty Images

For Kyle Busch, the second time was the charm on Friday at Kentucky Speedway - because there was no third time.

With the threat of a lightning storm imminent at the 1.5-mile track, NASCAR shortened knockout qualifying from three rounds to two, putting Busch on the pole for Saturday's Quaker State 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

By the time NASCAR opted to cancel the final round, Busch had already run a track-record lap, touring the repaved speedway in 28.379 seconds (190.282 mph). That put him .013 seconds ahead of Martin Truex Jr, who will start second for the fifth time in 18 races this season and second to Busch for the third time.

The Coors Light Pole Award was Busch's third of the season, his second in seven tries at Kentucky and the 22nd of his career. A two-time race winner at the track, Busch collected one of his victories from the pole in the inaugural Monster Energy race at Kentucky in 2011.

And with stronger runs as the season has progressed, Busch feels he's on the verge of a breakthrough victory.

"The guys have done an amazing job this year at building faster race cars as we've gone on this year," said Busch, who also won the pole for the NASCAR XFINITY Series race, which was postponed from Friday until noon Saturday because of the same storm.

"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. The Snickers car this weekend has been fast, and we're looking forward to taking this Toyota Camry to Victory Lane here in Kentucky."

Matt Kenseth, the 2013 Kentucky winner, was third fastest in the decisive second round, followed by Jamie McMurray and Denny Hamlin, as Joe Gibbs Racing - winless through the first 17 races - garnered three of the top five starting spots. With Truex second on the grid, Toyotas hold four of the top five positions.

Ryan Blaney, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Daniel Suarez and three-time Kentucky winner Brad Keselowski will take the green flag from positions six through 10, respectively.

Series leader Kyle Larson, who was fastest in qualifying trim during final practice, will start 40th, after his No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet failed to clear pre-qualifying inspection in time to run a lap in the first round.

"We will be fine from the back," Larson said. "Our Target Chevy was really good today, I thought, in race trim - better than I've ever felt at Kentucky. 

"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."

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start 13th in his final race at Kentucky Speedway in the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Earnhardt failed to crack the top 12 by .011 seconds, but his performance was an improvement over two lackluster practice sessions.

"Compared to where we were when we unloaded, it was a great improvement," Earnhardt said. "I didn't expect too much. I don't qualify that well, especially without a mock run, and I didn't anticipate doing well.

"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. The guys are working real hard."

QUALIFYING RESULTS

Pos.#DriverMakeSponsorLapBehindSpeed
118Kyle BuschToyotaSnickers28.3790.000190.282
278Martin Truex JrToyotaFurniture Row28.392-0.013190.194
320Matt KensethToyotaCircle K28.460-0.081189.740
41Jamie McMurrayChevyCESSNA28.464-0.085189.713
511Denny HamlinToyotaFedEx Freight28.468-0.089189.687
621Ryan BlaneyFordMotorcraft28.487-0.108189.560
74Kevin HarvickFordBusch Light28.488-0.109189.553
848Jimmie JohnsonChevyLowe's28.523-0.144189.321
919Daniel SuarezToyotaARRIS28.528-0.149189.288
102Brad KeselowskiFordMiller Lite28.539-0.160189.215
1122Joey LoganoFordShell Pennzoil 28.555-0.176189.109
1224Chase ElliottChevyNAPA28.595-0.216188.844
1388Dale Earnhardt JrChevyNationwide28.606-0.227188.772
1477Erik JonesToyotaSiriusXM28.609-0.230188.752
1541Kurt BuschFordHaas Automation 28.619-0.240188.686
1614Clint BowyerFordRush Truck Centers28.634-0.255188.587
1743Darrell Wallace JrFordSmithfield28.656-0.277188.442
1817Ricky Stenhouse JrFordFifth Third Bank28.676-0.297188.311
196Trevor BayneFordRoush Performance 28.676-0.297188.311
2010Danica PatrickFordNature's Bakery28.797-0.418187.520
2195Michael McDowellChevyWRL General Contractors28.991-0.612186.265
2237Chris BuescherChevyBreyers29.002-0.623186.194
235Kasey KahneChevyMountain Dew29.013-0.634186.123
2427Paul MenardChevySylvania / Menards29.048-0.669185.899
253Austin DillonChevyDow29.101-0.722185.561
2638David RaganFordDockside Logistics29.129-0.750185.382
2713Ty DillonChevyGEICO29.221-0.842184.799
2847AJ AllmendingerChevyKroger Click List29.228-0.849184.754
2931Ryan NewmanChevyCaterpillar29.247-0.868184.634
3032Matt DiBenedettoFordTBD29.367-0.988183.880
3183Ryan SiegToyotaJAS Expedited Trucking29.728-1.349181.647
3272Cole WhittChevyRTIC Coolers29.790-1.411181.269
3315Reed SorensonToyotaLosers Bar & Grill29.921-1.542180.475
3423Joey GaseToyotaBest Home Furnishings30.063-1.684179.623
3534Landon CassillFordLove's Travel Stops30.193-1.814178.849
3633Jeffrey EarnhardtChevyHulu 30.338-1.959177.995
3751BJ McLeodChevyTBD30.490-2.111177.107
3866Timmy HillChevyTBD30.544-2.165176.794
3955Gray GauldingToyotaCheckit4Andretti30.603-2.224176.453
4042Kyle LarsonChevyTarget0.00028.3790.000

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