Kyle Busch in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota earned his second pole of the year at Lowe's Motor Speedway with a 29.121 (185.443 mph) and looks to remain in dominant form for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' longest race of the year. Busch, who has an...
Kyle Busch in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota earned his second pole of the year at Lowe's Motor Speedway with a 29.121 (185.443 mph) and looks to remain in dominant form for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' longest race of the year. Busch, who has an average finish of 25.9 and only one top-five on the home-base track for many NASCAR teams, has a much better chance at improving those stats and continue to hold the points lead following the Coca-Cola 600.
"It's been pretty fun. Here at Lowe's Motor Speedway I only have one top-three finish and that was last fall," commented Busch on the quad-oval. "Hopefully we can have another solid run in this race. I don't think I've ever finished 600 miles on the lead lap yet -- I might have only finished that race one time and I was three laps down. That was my first try here and hopefully better luck this time."
Recent All-Star winner Kasey Kahne and the No. 9 Dodge will roll off second for Sunday evening's race with a 29.142 (185.300 mph). Kahne has been the bright spot for Gillett Evernham Motorsports this year as he is 14th in the driver standings, only two points behind the 12th position. Kahne has been statistically strong on the North Carolina quad-oval with two wins and an average finish of 15.8 in only eight starts.
"I enjoy racing here," said Kahne. "I enjoy testing here too. We just keep trying and trying to get it to drive the way I want. There are tracks as a driver that you kind of know. You know what the car needs to feel like to go fast and there are other tracks that I don't know as well. (Lowe's) seems like one that I do know and we've run up front a lot since 2004. We'll just keep working on it and hopefully what we do know we'll be good enough on Sunday."
Starting third will be the Red Bull Racing No. 83 Toyota of Brian Vickers who clocked in with a 29.150 (185.249 mph). Vickers and the No. 83 bunch have been strong on the 1.5-mile track even when they were locked out of the top-35 last year. They finished fifth in this race last year while leading multiple laps. Vickers was only 13th quick in practice. He is still within striking distance of the top-12 as he sits in 17th right now, just over 100 points out of 12th place in the driver standings.
"It was good. I'm really happy with it, especially based on how we've been qualifying. We've been struggling at that a little bit this year," said Vickers of his qualifying time. "This week, we decided we're going to come here -- we tested and we're real confident in our race package -- and qualify and practice in qualifying trim and we did that today. I think it proved that this team can qualify if we work at it and focus on it. Now, that we've proven that to ourselves as a group, we have decide going forward how much time do we spend on race trim and qualifying trim. A lot of that is going to be week-to-week depending on we feel about our race package versus qualifying package. In these cars, qualifying is so important."
Only Ky. Busch, Kahne, and Vickers qualified quicker than 185 mph average laps.
Fourth is the No. 16 Ford of Greg Biffle who timed in with a 29.194 (184.969 mph). Biffle has been quick all season but has been plagued with bad luck, and with this race being so long, he might be one of the first ones to be struck with it again. Biffle was second quick in practice and needs a good race without troubles to climb up from 11th and start to secure himself into the Chase.
One of the biggest surprises this year is the No. 6 Ford of David Ragan who will be starting fifth Sunday evening with a 29.273 (184.470 mph). Ragan currently sits 12th in the driver standings and has been very consistent this year, although not flashy. Ragan was fastest during practice and looks to have a good shot at another solid finish.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88 Chevy will be rolling off sixth with a 29.278 (184.439 mph). Earnhardt Jr was the highest qualifying Chevy and the best of the Hendrick Motorsports cars.
Mark Martin in the No. 8 Chevy qualified seventh with a 29.319 (184.181 mph), Kurt Busch looks to turn around his struggling season after qualifying eighth with a 29.331 (184.106 mph), and Elliott Sadler in the No. 19 Dodge qualified ninth with a 29.352 (183.974 mph). Sadler, who has been great in qualifying all year should look to put a good race result together with his quick qualifying time.
Rounding out the top-ten was the No. 48 Chevy of reigning Cup champion Jimmie Johnson with a 29.360 (183.924 mph).
Jeff Gordon and the No. 24 Chevy team continue to be close but not where they need to be. Gordon qualified 18th with a 29.438 (183.436 mph).
Sam Hornish Jr. was the quickest qualifying rookie with a 29.452 (183.349 mph) and will start 20th in his No. 77 Dodge.
Sterling Marlin in the No. 40 Dodge (currently subbing for Dario Franchitti) was the quickest of the cars that had to qualify in on time. Marlin qualified 26th with a 29.499 (183.507 mph).
All-Star Sprint Showdown winner A.J. Allmendinger in the No. 84 Toyota qualified 27th with a 29.532 (182.852 mph).
Tony Stewart will start deep in the field after qualifying 31st with a 29.652 (182.113 mph).
Ken Schrader was able to qualify in on time for the No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevy with a 29.673 (181.984 mph). Schrader will roll off 33rd also.
Juan Pablo Montoya had the slowest time of all cars qualifying for the race with a 30.080 (179.521 mph) but will roll off 42nd with the use of owner points while the No. 70 of Johnny Sauter who ran a 29.761 (181.446 mph) will start 43rd.
Five cars failed to qualify and they were the No. 08 of Tony Raines, the No. 21 of Jon Wood, the No. 34 of Jeff Green, the No. 78 of Joe Nemechek, and the No. 150 of Stanton Barrett.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will start their longest race of the year at 5:30pm EDT Sunday evening.