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Kurt Busch Wins Busch Pole Award at Michigan

Firekeepers Casino 400 at Michigan Speedway
Saturday, June 9, 2018

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Kurt Busch collects his second Busch Pole Award of the season
Daniel Shirley/Getty Images

Clearly, Kurt Busch enjoyed the rush of putting his No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford on the pole on Friday at Michigan International Speedway. 

"To go 217 (mph) into the corner-just hauling the mail-I love that feeling," said Busch, who ran his fastest lap of the day at the 2-mile track to earn the top starting spot for Sunday's Firekeepers Casino 400.

"This one is fun, because I could trust the car, and I knew I needed to go after it hard. Watching all the Fords in practice, I knew we had a good shot at it. The guys tweaked on the tires the right amount. It's a new compound, left and right side, and we didn't want to get caught up too much in chasing the tires… 

"Now we need to translate that to race speed."  

The Busch Pole Award was Busch's second of the season, this third at Michigan and the 24th of his career. Covering the distance in 35.405 seconds (203.361 mph), Busch claimed bragging rights in the back yard of the American auto industry by .034 seconds over fellow Ford driver Brad Keselowski (203.166 mph). 

In fact, with Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Aric Almirola and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. qualifying fourth through seventh, respectively, Ford drivers earned six of the top seven starting positions for the 15th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series event of the season. 

Toyota driver Kyle Busch, a four-time winner this season and the series leader, was the only interloper in the top seven after a final-round lap of 203.120 mph, good for the third spot on the grid behind his older brother and Keselowski. 

A major adjustment to the No. 2 Team Penske Ford between the second and third rounds gave Keselowski plenty of speed, but he felt he left some of the extra juice on the track in the first and second corners. 

"I think we were right there for the pole," Keselowski said. "I made just a small little mistake in (Turns) 1 and 2 that I wish I could have back. Credit to (crew chief) Paul (Wolfe) and the team. They made some good adjustments the last round (to gain more than .2 seconds). 

"That's a pretty big gain. I just didn't quite get all the gain they made on the car out of it, but we have a good starting spot, and it bodes well for the Miller Lite Ford. Hopefully, we can get a good run Sunday." 

Harvick was fastest in each of the first two rounds but slowed to 202.954 mph in the final. 

"To be honest I didn't really expect everybody to pick up two-tenths," said Harvick, who has five victories in 14 starts this year. "I thought we had a little bit to just keep from trying to screw up but, in the end, I needed to get a little more. It was still a good qualifying effort, so we'll just go from there." 

Kurt Busch
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Kyle Larson's quest for a fourth straight Cup win at Michigan hit a major speed bump, thanks to a tight handling condition that persisted throughout opening practice and continued into the time trials. 

"Our car has just been pretty far off, I feel like, all day," said Larson, who failed to advance from the first round and will start 26th on Sunday. "It's really tight. I don't feel like I can turn the wheel very far either. I don't know why that is.  

"But we've got some smart people in our race trailer and on our race team that will get it worked out. We'll get some laps (in Saturday's practice) and hopefully be better."

RACE LINEUP

 

Pos # Driver Sponsor/Make Lap Speed
1 41 Kurt Busch Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford 35.405 203.361
2 2 Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Ford 35.439 203.166
3 18 Kyle Busch M&M's Red White & Blue Toyota 35.447 203.12
4 4 Kevin Harvick Jimmy John's Ford 35.476 202.954
5 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford 35.614 202.168
6 10 Aric Almirola Mobil 1 Ford 35.713 201.607
7 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Fastenal Ford 35.774 201.263
8 20 Erik Jones DeWalt Toyota 35.796 201.14
9 12 Ryan Blaney DEX Imaging Ford 35.858 200.792
10 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Freight Toyota 35.928 200.401
11 31 Ryan Newman Okuma Chevrolet 35.989 200.061
12 14 Clint Bowyer Haas 30 Years of the VF1 Ford 36.039 199.784
13 9 Chase Elliott Mountain Dew/Little Caesars Chevrolet 35.904 200.535
14 24 William Byron
Liberty University Chevrolet 35.912 200.49
15 21 Paul Menard Menards/Jack Links Ford 35.941 200.328
16 3 Austin Dillon Dow Salutes Veterans Chevrolet 35.942 200.323
17 78 Martin Truex Jr. Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota 35.959 200.228
18 37 Chris Buescher Scott Comfort Plus Chevrolet 35.985 200.083
19 6 Matt Kenseth Wyndham Rewards Ford 36.035 199.806
20 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's for Pros Chevrolet 36.039 199.784
21 88 Alex Bowman Nationwide Chevrolet 36.054 199.7
22 19 Daniel Suarez ARRIS Toyota 36.064 199.645
23 34 Michael McDowell Dockside Logistics Ford 36.116 199.358
24 1 Jamie McMurray McDonald's Chevrolet 36.126 199.302
25 47 AJ Allmendinger Kroger ClickList Chevrolet 36.172 199.049
26 42 Kyle Larson Credit One Bank Chevrolet 36.181 198.999
27 38 David Ragan MDS Tranpsort Ford 36.228 198.741
28 43 Bubba Wallace Meijer Chevrolet 36.262 198.555
29 95 Kasey Kahne Chevy Accessories Chevrolet 36.372 197.954
30 32 Matt DiBenedetto Can-Am/Wholey Ford 36.418 197.704
31 13 Ty Dillon Twisted Tea Chevrolet 36.564 196.915
32 72 Corey LaJoie Zomongo Chevrolet 37.03 194.437
33 15 Ross Chastain FlightPath International Chevrolet 37.081 194.17
34 23 Gray Gaulding Toyota 37.374 192.647
35 51 BJ McLeod Prefund Capital Chevrolet 37.484 192.082
36 0 Landon Cassill Star Com Fiber Chevrolet 37.608 191.449
37 7 DJ Kennington APC Chevrolet 38.319 187.896
38 66 Timmy Hill MBM Motorsports/CrashClaimsR.us Toyota 38.617 186.446
39 99 Garrett Smithley Victory Lane Quick Oil Change Chevrolet 38.618 186.442


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