Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota team owns the front row for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series return to Daytona International Speedway for the Fourth of July weekend’s Coke Zero 400.
Kyle Busch took to Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway in his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota about halfway through pole qualifying on Friday for Saturday's Coke Zero 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race and turned in a lap time of 46.458 seconds to claim the pole. He'll be joined on the front row by JGR teammate Matt Kenseth in the No. 20 Toyota. Kenseth was second-fastest with a lap time of 46.560 seconds. Toyota swept the top-three in qualifying, as Clint Bowyer was third in the No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota.
Bowyer's MWR teammate, Martin Truex Jr. in the No. 56 Toyota, was first on the track in qualifying and held the provisional pole spot through 15 cars, until Kenseth went out and knocked him from the top of the scoring pylon. Kenseth's time at the top was short-lived, though, as Busch went out just a few cars later and staked a claim on the provisional pole that he would hold throughout the remainder of the qualifying session.
"We're a top-five team right now, and we need to keep working hard with (crew chief) Dave (Rogers) and the guys to keep bringing fast cars to the track and bring home solid finishes the next several weeks," Busch said. "Daytona is a different animal. We ran really well there in February, but, obviously, had the engine trouble that knocked us out. I think we will have another strong car and you just hope you can stay out of a wreck and we can bring home a win, or at least another good finish with our Interstate All Battery Center Camry."
Truex remained in the top-five, winding up fifth by the end of the session. Qualifying fourth was the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Kasey Kahne, the only non-Toyota in the top-five.
"I just thought it looked really windy," Kahne said. "I saw the flags moving. It looks like it's blowing from the backstretch to the frontstretch. I just kind of went around there. I felt where it pushed me a little bit. I never felt it bog the car down. That was good; our engines run really well. I think we have a fast car, obviously, to go that quick today."
The No. 27 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Paul Menard qualified sixth, followed by Bowyer and Truex's boss, Michael Waltrip in the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota. The No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Jimmie Johnson qualified eighth. Johnson was followed by the two fastest Fords in qualifying, the No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and the No. 16 Roush Fenway Ford of Greg Biffle in ninth and 10th.
"It's good," Stenhouse said. "These guys are working really hard on our cars. It's always nice to be the fastest Ford. I wish we could be the fastest car, overall."
Forty-three cars, the exact number needed for a full race field in the Sprint Cup Series, made qualifying attempts, so all who made laps in qualifying will have a spot on the starting grid Saturday night.