Bristol pole puts Kyle Busch in unfamiliar territory

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Pole winner for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ Bristol 500 set a new track record as he notched his first-ever pole on the oval in Tennessee.

Kyle Busch set a new track qualifying record at Bristol (Ten.) Motor Speedway on Friday, turning in a lap time of 14.813 seconds in his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to claim the pole starting spot for Sunday's Food City 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the track. The No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Kasey Kahne grabbed the other front-row spot on the starting grid with a 14.875-second qualifying lap.

"Great job by all these guys," Busch said. "They work hard and it pays off."

Although Busch is a five-time Sprint Cup race winner at Bristol, Friday's pole run was his first at the track. As a matter-of fact, it was his first time qualifying in the top-four.

"I hope I don't get lost," Busch said of being able to pit in one of the preferred corner pit stalls for the first time at the track.

Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

Three drivers broke the old track qualifying record. Aside from Busch and Kahne, the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Denny Hamlin also posted a time faster than the previous record. Hamlin's 14.879-second lap was good enough for third.

"You can't really believe all the grip the car has," Hamlin said.

For a time, Joe Gibbs Racing had a hold on the provisional front row with Busch on the provisional pole and Hamlin in second. Then, Toyota actually laid claim the top-three provisional starting spots with the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota of Brian Vickers in third.

"They guys did a great job with the car," Vickers said, taking blame for the car not being on the pole. "Had a great car."

Kahne went out late, though, and knocked all but Busch down a notch.

"It felt just a touch tight in (turns) one and two," Kahne said of his lap. "I gave up just a little on the backstretch, but nailed three and four."

After Kahne's lap, Hamlin was knocked to third and Vickers to fourth. Paul Menard rounded out the top-five in the No. 27 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet.

Jamie McMurray was sixth in the No. 1 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. The No. 2 Penske Racing Ford of Brad Keselowski was the highest-qualifying Ford in seventh. Qualifying eighth through 10th were the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet of Tony Stewart, the No. 56 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota of Martin Truex Jr., and the No. 22 Penske Racing Ford of Joey Logano.

Thirty-six cars turned in lap times faster than the pole lap from a year ago, with nine of those posting times under 15 seconds.

Forty-four drivers made qualifying attempts for the 43 available spots. The lone driver failing to make the race was Scott Riggs in the No. 44 XXXtreme Motorsports Chevrolet.

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About this article
Series NASCAR-CUP
Article type Qualifying report
Tags bristol, chevrolet, ford, hamlin, joe gibbs racing, kahne, kyle busch, menard, nascar-cup, nascar sprint cup, toyota, vickers