Kahne nabs first career pole at Vegas

Kahne nabs first career pole at Vegas

The Evernham Dodge's dominated on-track activity Friday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. They scored three of the top six practice times, before crushing the qualifying competition by sweeping three of the top ten starting positions: first, second and...

The Evernham Dodge's dominated on-track activity Friday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. They scored three of the top six practice times, before crushing the qualifying competition by sweeping three of the top ten starting positions: first, second and tenth.

Kasey Kahne.
Photo by Michael Kim / LAT Photographic.
Rookie Kasey Kahne's lap of 174.904 miles per hour broke the track record and earned Kahne his first career Budweiser pole award. Fifteen drivers managed to break the track record set last year by Bobby Labonte.

"This is tough competition here," expressed Kahne. "I screwed up the first lap a little bit, but I made up the second lap and we had a great car. It's fun to drive a car like that."

Kahne is the first rookie to ever sit on the pole for a Las Vegas Cup series event, and the second youngest rookie to sit on a pole (Casey Atwood, Phoenix is the youngest) in the modern-era.

Kahne has been white-hot for the last two weeks. He finished second at Rockingham last week, after challenging Matt Kenseth at the line in one of the closest finishes in NASCAR history.

Las Vegas native Kurt Busch, went out late in the session and almost slapped the wall in the No. 97 Roush Ford, but managed to keep it off the concrete to earn the outside pole position with a lap of 174.548 mph.

"It would have been awesome (to win the pole) for the fans that stuck around," said Busch. "There are probably more fans here for qualifying than the Busch race at Rockingham. You can feel the excitement. It's Vegas. I love coming here. We were just a little shy. The car was supposed to cut and stick in turn four and it got a little loose on me."

Fellow rookie Brian Vickers starts third with a lap of 174.537 mph.

"The Dodge's are pretty tough right now," commented Vickers. "We improved from practice and we got a great starting spot for the race."

2003 Raybestos Rookie of the Year, Jamie McMurray, starts the No. 42 Dodge from fourth place with his lap of 174.436 mph.

Ryan Newman will take the green flag from the fifth spot on the grid. Newman's lap of 174.267 mph helped Dodge to gain three of the top five starting positions.

"The car felt pretty good," said Newman. "We were a little tight and missed it just a little bit. It was a good run for the ALLTEL Dodge. It's close to where we qualified here last year, but I think we'll have a good racecar for sure. We were going for it, and I'm a little disappointed that we didn't get it."

"I think we were one of the few teams that didn't come out here to test. Just to be able to come home with a top five is a lot to be said considering the new tires and rule changes and what not," added Newman.

Kahne's teammate, Jeremy Mayfield, who had the second fastest practice lap Friday, garnered the sixth starting position.

"I'm real happy with that lap," Mayfield commented. "We came out here and tested and didn't do any qualifying runs. So, to qualify that fast is pretty good. I'm real proud of this race car."

Fellow Evernham driver, Bill Elliott, who announced earlier this year that he would run a limited schedule of events this season, did 'Team Ray' proud. His hard-charging lap was worthy of tenth spot.

"The car felt good," said Elliott of his first time back since Homestead- Miami in 2003. "Coming and being a bunch of misfits, I feel pretty good about it."

Qualifying was interrupted twice for on-track incidents, once to check for debris after Jeff Gordon scraped the wall in the No. 24 Chevy and later in the session when the No. 41 of Casey Mears also kissed the wall. Neither mishap seemed to affect the racers qualifying efforts, Gordon starts 20th, and Mears 13th.

Notably, Kyle Busch, attempting to make his first career Cup series start, will roll off from 18th.

Forty-four cars attempted to qualify for the forty-three car field. The odd man out was the No. 98 Ford of Larry Gunselman.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Bobby Labonte , Jeremy Mayfield , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Casey Mears , Larry Gunselman , Jamie McMurray , Kasey Kahne , Brian Vickers , Kyle Busch , Michael Kim