Brothers Kyle and Kurt Busch claim front row for Bristol Cup race
For the third time since both joined the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, the Busch brothers will lead the field to green.
Kyle Busch, fresh off his victory last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway, grabbed the pole for Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway with an average lap speed in the final round of 128.822 mph.
He just edged his older brother, Kurt (128.804 mph) for the top spot. Brad Keselowski (128.282 mph) ended up third, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. fourth and Ryan Blaney fifth.
Rounding out the Top 12 are Kyle Larson, Paul Menard, Alex Bowman, Michael McDowell, Joey Logano, William Byron and Daniel Suarez.
This is the third time the Busch brothers will share the front row and each time it has been Kyle on the pole and Kurt in the second position.
“He always told everybody, ‘If you think I’m good, wait for my younger brother,’ ” Kyle Busch after qualifying. “Adam Stevens (crew chief) and my guys do an awesome job in the preparation we got going on right now.
“It’s nice to come out here and grab a front row starting spot but I have to be careful to be mindful of having a good race car. Every time I’ve started up front, I’ve not ended up front and every time I’ve started in the back, I’ve ended up in the front.
“We’re trying to change things this time around. Thankfully, we have a fast race car to do that with.”
|4||17||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||Ford||3||14.961||0.066||0.001||127.532|
Once again the vast majority of cars waited until the final minutes to make their attempt in the second, 10-minute session.
Kurt Busch came away with the best average lap speed of 129.030 mph – which ended up being the fastest of the session overall. Kyle Busch was second (128.969 mph) and Blaney third (128.322 mph).
Keselowski was fourth and Larson completed the top-five.
Also advancing to the final round were Logano, Byron, Stenhouse, Bowman, McDowell, Menard and Suarez.
Among those who failed to advance to the final round were Erik Jones, Clint Bowyer, Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott, and Darrell Wallace Jr.
“We sat around and waited and then tried to cram everything into the final two minutes,” Johnson said. “That’s not enough time for this many cars to get a clean lap.”
Several drivers said they thought the PJ1 track compound gets more traction once a few cars have driven over it, which is why no one wanted to be the first to take to the track.
In a mad dash late in the 15-minute session, Kyle Busch posted the fastest average lap speed of the first round at 128.960 mph.
Kurt Busch ended up second (128.362 mph) and Logano third (127.886 mph). Menard and Blaney completed the top-five.
It was almost three minutes into the session before any driver ventured out on the track to make a qualifying attempt with Gray Gaulding the first to register a speed.
The vast majority of cars didn’t even take to the track until there were less than four minutes remaining.
Among those who failed to advance to Round 2 were reigning series champion Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin, Ryan Newman, Jamie McMurray and Kevin Harvick.
“I think we were the fifth car (out) and we just needed a little bit more heat in our tires,” said Hamlin, who will line up 25th. “The track was just pretty treacherous there at the beginning. We just ran out of time to make another attempt.”
Harvick, who wrecked his primary car in Friday’s practice session, elected not to make a qualifying attempt and his team continued to work on his backup car.
Regardless of where he would have qualified, Harvick would still have to start Sunday’s race from the rear of the field.
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Kyle Larson sets pace during Saturday’s first Cup practice in Bristol