Kyle Busch is still looking for his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway but he’s off to a good start this weekend.
Busch saved the fastest lap of the day for the final round of Thursday night’s qualifying, using an average lap speed at 191.836 mph to win the pole for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600.
Team Penske’s Joey Logano ended up second (191.218 mph) while Busch’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Denny Hamlin was third (191.049 mph). Erik Jones was fourth and Brad Keselowski completed the top-five.
The pole is Busch’s third this season, third at Charlotte and 30th of his career.
“We felt pretty good. The guys did an amazing job in practice as we weren’t very good in practice. The boys just went to work,” Busch said. “It’s all good because it’s pure talent, all the way around, all these guys.
“This is a race you always enjoy coming to. At Charlotte, I haven’t won here in a points-paying event I guess. It would certainly be nice to get that down here this weekend with the 600.”
Sunday’s race will also see last weekend’s winner of the All-Star Race, Kevin Harvick, starting from the rear of the field.
Harvick’s No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford was never able to clear inspection before the conclusion of the first round of qualifying. The car failed inspection three times so Harvick’s car chief, Robert Smith, was ejected for the remainder of the weekend.
Harvick will also have to sit out 30 minutes of Saturday’s final practice session.
Harvick, who leads the series with five wins this season, won three of four stages on his way to the $1 million first prize in the all-star race.
Round out the top 12 starters are Ryan Newman, Jamie McMurray, Ryan Blaney, Aric Almirola, Daniel Suarez, Kyle Larson and Austin Dillon.
Kyle Busch set the standard in the second round, using an average lap speed of 191.591 mph to easily go to the top of the speed chart.
Hamlin was second (190.409 mph) and Logano was third (190.282 mph). Blaney was fourth and Newman completed the top-five.
Also advancing to the final round were McMurray, Almirola, Larson, Jones, Austin Dillon, Keselowski and Suarez.
Among those who failed to advance were the three remaining Hendrick Motorsports drivers – William Byron, Jimmie Johnson and Chase Elliott.
Also not advancing were Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Paul Menard, Martin Truex Jr., Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth and Darrell Wallace Jr.
“I don’t think I left anything out there. Our car had a little bit of speed in practice, we only made two laps,” Stenhouse said. “I drive our car, especially in qualifying, on the very edge. I got really loose, really sideways.”
McMurray led the way in the first round with an average lap speed of 191.035 mph, the only driver to cross the 191 mph barrier in the session.
Kyle Busch was second (190.094 mph) and Jones was third (189.974 mph). Blaney was fourth and Kurt Busch completed the top-five.
Among those who failed to advance to the first round were Kasey Kahne, Alex Bowman, Clint Bowyer, A.J. Allmendinger and Matt DiBenedetto.
“Just kind of frustrated with that first run,” Bowman said. “Our car isn’t bad and we shouldn’t be this far back. We’ll be OK on Sunday.”
The first car didn’t take to the track until 11 minutes remained in the 15-minute session as teams waited to catch a cloud or allow the track to cool some.
When the first round went green, five cars – those of Harvick, Almirola, Kahne, Parker Kligerman and J.J. Yeley – had not yet cleared inspection.
Both Harvick and Yeley never turned a lap during qualifying.
|13||17||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||Ford||28.595||0.446||188.844|
|15||78||Martin Truex Jr.||Toyota||28.620||0.471||188.679|
|24||43||Darrell Wallace Jr.||Chevrolet||29.061||0.912||185.816|