The Busch brothers — both absent from Atlanta Motor Speedway last season — battled for the pole with the current Sprint Cup champ edging his elder sibling by just 0.013-second.
Then Kyle Busch’s lap of 191.668 mph was disqualified on Friday after the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota failed inspection on the laser platform when his rear toe was askew by 0.15 degrees. He will start 39th.
Scott Miller, NASCAR’s new vice president of competition said there would be no further penalties for the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing team.
Kurt Busch, who was extremely consistent through all three rounds, inherited the pole for Sunday’s Folds of Honor 500 with a lap of 191.582 mph. It’s his first career pole at Atlanta and his 20th overall.
“It’s an awesome run that the car had in it,” the elder Busch said. "The team did a good job to dial it in for the three rounds. I was just trying to make sure I didn’t slip a tire any extra. It’s really easy to overdrive Atlanta Motor Speedway. The track challenges the driver, the car and the tires. It’s a fun place to come and try to lay down a lap.
“Overall with the way the developments came up from tech inspection this shows the amount of enforcement that NASCAR is ready to apply to their technical procedures on what a car has to do to comply to all specs.”
Best of the rest
Jamie McMurray, who posted the third fastest lap (190.130 mph) and moves up to second, told the crew his “balance wasn’t horrible, maybe just a tick tight.”
Trevor Bayne posted the top lap (189.987 mph) in the Ford camp — and his best qualifying effort on a non-restrictor plate track. He’ll start third followed by Ryan Newman (189.961 mph) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (189.863 mph).
Kevin Harvick rolls off sixth (189.779 mph) but acknowledged to the team, “That wasn't very good for me…too free that time.” Carl Edwards (189.766 mph), Austin Dillon (189.681 mph), Martin Truex Jr. (189.364 mph), top rookie Brian Scott (188.591 mph) and Kasey Kahne (187.196 mph). Denny Hamlin, who failed to transfer to the final round will move up to 12th.
Jamie McMurray sawed the wheel as he tried to hold on to his qualifying lap — and established the best run with a time of 28.9-seconds (191.834mph) around the 1.5-mile track.
"I hurt the right rear tire off of 4," Mcmurray said. "I slid a long ways.”
Kurt Busch (191.635 mph), Austin Dillon (191.536 mph), Carl Edwards (191.463 mph), Ryan Newman (191.054 mph) and Martin Truex Jr. (191.027 mph) rounded out the top six.
Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kevin Harvick, Brian Scott and Trevor Bayne all advanced to the final round.
“I got a little free, then slid all the way in Turn 3,” Kahne said.
Kasey Kahne was the first car on the track, but Kyle Busch led the first round with a lap of 193.299 mph ( 28.681-sec.), topping Trevor Bayne by just 0.256-seconds.
Kyle Larson, who led the first and only practice on Friday, was third (191.854 mph) followed by Kurt Busch (191.635 mph) and Carl Edwards (191.377 mph). Edwards crew had to change a tire on the No. 19 Toyota prior to starting the second round after discovering a puncture.
“One and two I thought was good, entry of three was loose,” Larson said. “I lifted my track bar on the backstretch.”