Kurt Busch takes Talladega pole as SHR locks out the first two rows

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Kurt Busch takes Talladega pole as SHR locks out the first two rows
Jim Utter
By: Jim Utter
Oct 13, 2018, 10:17 PM

Kurt Busch didn’t leave any doubt about who was fastest at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.

Busch ended up fastest in both rounds of Saturday’s qualifying session and each time was followed by his three Stewart-Haas Racing teammates.

Busch, the last driver to make an attempt, posted an average lap speed of 195.804 mph to claim the pole in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Talladega.

The pole is his fifth of the season, 27th of his career and first at a superspeedway.

“Doug Yates and those guys built so much quality (engine) power and you see it in four Stewart-Haas Fords. I’m really happy I got the fast one,” Busch said.

“We’re on the pole. This is my first restrictor-plate pole ever. EV-ER. It’s taken me 20 years but I got one.”

Asked what a fast No. 41 Ford will allow him to do in the race on Sunday, Busch said, “It keeps you in your motorhome. You don’t want to party too hard tonight on Talladega Boulevard. In all seriousness, there are a lot of nerves that come with sitting on the pole for a plate race.

“Is the car all built for speed and is there no handling in it? The fenders are very tight to the tires. Are the pit crew guys going to be cool with getting those fast pit stops with the fenders down on the tires?

“Those are the little things that you think about. The more that I think about things as of late, I just let it rip and go for it.”

Clint Bowyer ended up second (195.301 mph) and Kevin Harvick was third (195.186 mph). Aric Almirola and Chase Elliott completed the top-five.

Rounding out the Top 12 starters are Jimmie Johnson, Alex Bowman, William Byron, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr. and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Round 1

Kurt Busch led the way in the first round, easily rocketing to the top of the speed chart with an average lap speed of 195.225 mph.

His SHR teammates – Bowyer, Harvick and Almirola – ended up second through fourth. Elliott completed the top-five.

Also advancing to the final round were Bowman, Johnson, Byron, Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Stenhouse and Truex.

“You try to keep yourself in position the whole race and then see what you can do from there,” Byron said about his approach to Sunday’s race. “You just have put yourself in the right position. All of us (at Hendrick) have pretty good speed so it should be fun.”

Among those who failed to advance to the final round were Daniel Suarez, Erik Jones and all three Team Penske drivers – Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano.

David Starr was the only driver who failed to make the 40-car field.

Cla # Driver 4506 Time Gap Mph
1 41 United States Kurt Busch  Ford 48.906   195.804
2 14 United States Clint Bowyer  Ford 49.032 0.126 195.301
3 4 United States Kevin Harvick  Ford 49.061 0.155 195.186
4 10 United States Aric Almirola  Ford 49.216 0.310 194.571
5 9 United States Chase Elliott  Chevrolet 49.260 0.354 194.397
6 48 United States Jimmie Johnson  Chevrolet 49.317 0.411 194.172
7 88 United States Alex Bowman  Chevrolet 49.420 0.514 193.768
8 24 United States William Byron  Chevrolet 49.420 0.514 193.768
9 18 United States Kyle Busch  Toyota 49.439 0.533 193.693
10 11 United States Denny Hamlin  Toyota 49.519 0.613 193.380
11 78 United States Martin Truex Jr.  Toyota 49.635 0.729 192.928
12 17 United States Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  Ford 49.661 0.755 192.827
13 19 Mexico Daniel Suarez  Toyota 49.729 0.823 192.564
14 34 United States Michael McDowell  Ford 49.743 0.837 192.509
15 20 United States Erik Jones  Toyota 49.833 0.927 192.162
16 38 United States David Ragan  Ford 49.876 0.970 191.996
17 43 United States Darrell Wallace Jr.  Chevrolet 49.892 0.986 191.935
18 2 United States Brad Keselowski  Ford 49.901 0.995 191.900
19 12 United States Ryan Blaney  Ford 49.945 1.039 191.731
20 22 United States Joey Logano  Ford 50.035 1.129 191.386
21 3 United States Austin Dillon  Chevrolet 50.085 1.179 191.195
22 31 United States Ryan Newman  Chevrolet 50.091 1.185 191.172
23 47 United States A.J. Allmendinger  Chevrolet 50.140 1.234 190.985
24 6 United States Trevor Bayne  Ford 50.141 1.235 190.981
25 95 United States Regan Smith  Chevrolet 50.225 1.319 190.662
26 37 United States Chris Buescher  Chevrolet 50.228 1.322 190.651
27 32 United States Matt DiBenedetto  Ford 50.416 1.510 189.940
28 62 United States Brendan Gaughan  Chevrolet 50.478 1.572 189.706
29 13 United States Ty Dillon  Chevrolet 50.480 1.574 189.699
30 21 United States Paul Menard  Ford 50.491 1.585 189.658
31 1 United States Jamie McMurray  Chevrolet 50.533 1.627 189.500
32 23 United States J.J. Yeley  Ford 50.565 1.659 189.380
33 7 Canada D.J. Kennington  Chevrolet 50.604 1.698 189.234
34 42 United States Kyle Larson  Chevrolet 50.739 1.833 188.731
35 96 United States Jeffrey Earnhardt  Toyota 50.837 1.931 188.367
36 15 United States Ross Chastain  Chevrolet 51.217 2.311 186.969
37 00 United States Joey Gase  Chevrolet 51.292 2.386 186.696
38 99 United States Landon Cassill  Chevrolet 51.311 2.405 186.627
39 72 United States Corey Lajoie  Chevrolet 51.837 2.931 184.733
40 51 Cody Ware  Ford 52.289 3.383 183.136

Take a virtual lap around Talladega Superspeedway with the No. 2 Team Penske Ford of Brad Keselowski, courtesy of NASCAR Heat 3.

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About this article

Series NASCAR Cup
Event Talladega II
Drivers Kurt Busch
Teams Stewart-Haas Racing
Author Jim Utter
Article type Qualifying report