Kenseth wins pole in Kansas
With a track-record lap at 191.864 mph (28.145 seconds), Kenseth knocked former Roush Fenway Racing teammate Carl Edwards off the provisional pole at the 1.5-mile intermediate track and held the top starting spot for Sunday's STP 400.
Edwards watched in disbelief as Kenseth, the next-to-last driver to make a qualifying attempt, bettered Edwards' time by 0.017 seconds to win his first Coors Light pole award in a Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota and the ninth of his career.
"I didn't think Matt would be a factor," Edwards said ruefully, "but he pulled that out somehow."
Sunoco rookie Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (191.734 mph) qualified third, .002 seconds off Edwards' time. Sam Hornish Jr. will start fourth after a lap at 191.401 mph. Kyle Busch qualified fifth in a backup car after wrecking his primary JGR Camry in practice.
The top four drivers broke Kasey Kahne's former track record of 191.360 (28.219 seconds), set in October 2012 in the first competition after Kansas Speedway was repaved.
"You know, I struggled through (Turns) 1 and 2 all day, and I tried something really different there in qualifying," said Kenseth, who grazed the wall during practice but didn't sustain significant damage to his car. "I watched Ricky and a couple of other guys get through there, and I kind of changed my approach to the corner.
"I knew I got through there pretty good, but I didn't know it was that good, but, man, I didn't think I could do any better in 3 and 4. It felt pretty good."
Jeff Gordon's No. 24 Chevrolet SS slid sideways off Turn 2 and crashed into the outside wall before he could complete his first qualifying lap. On Sunday, Gordon will start from the rear of the field in a backup car.
"I was committed," Gordon said, as he sat in the car after the spin. "Yep, I'm fine. Unfortunately the car is not."
After climbing from the car, Gordon added, "You know what -- I really meant what I said about the commitment. I feel like (the crew) deserved a better lap than what we put up in practice. I think the car was better than that.
"It felt real good coming through (Turns) 3 and 4 (on the warm-up lap). I wanted to get back to the gas early and hard down there to try to run the lap times that some of these other guys are running, but obviously it didn't stick."
In Friday's practice session, Busch, last weekend's race winner at Texas, flattened the right side of his No. 18 Toyota against the outside wall. The team rolled out a backup car but transferred the engine from the primary car into the backup.
Accordingly, because the brush with the wall occurred before qualifying, Busch will keep the fifth starting spot he earned during time trials.
Notes: Series leader Jimmie Johnson qualified 21st, and was the fastest of the four Hendrick Motorsports drivers. ... In a session dominated by Toyota and Ford, the fastest four Chevrolet drivers were Ryan Newman (ninth), Paul Menard (12th), Kurt Busch (13th) and Jamie McMurray (14th). ... Brian Vickers qualified 16th in his second race subbing for injured Denny Hamlin. ... Joe Nemechek failed to make the 43-car field.
1. (20) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 191.864 mph.
2. (99) Carl Edwards, Ford, 191.748 mph.
3. (17) Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #, Ford, 191.734 mph.
4. (12) Sam Hornish, Jr.(i), Ford, 191.401 mph.
5. (18) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 190.853 mph.
6. (43) Aric Almirola, Ford, 190.779 mph.
7. (56) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 190.651 mph.
8. (55) Mark Martin, Toyota, 190.282 mph.
9. (39) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 190.221 mph.
10. (15) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, 190.134 mph.
11. (16) Greg Biffle, Ford, 190.067 mph.
12. (27) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 189.780 mph.
13. (78) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 189.534 mph.
14. (1) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 189.221 mph.
15. (9) Marcos Ambrose, Ford, 189.195 mph.
16. (11) Brian Vickers(i), Toyota, 189.182 mph.
17. (29) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 189.155 mph.
18. (14) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 189.023 mph.
19. (42) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 188.758 mph.
20. (31) Jeff Burton, Chevrolet, 188.679 mph.
21. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 188.442 mph.
22. (22) Joey Logano, Ford, 188.317 mph.
23. (88) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 188.311 mph.
24. (81) Elliott Sadler(i), Toyota, 187.996 mph.
25. (10) Danica Patrick #, Chevrolet, 187.774 mph.
26. (34) David Ragan, Ford, 187.441 mph.
27. (5) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 187.370 mph.
28. (38) David Gilliland, Ford, 187.279 mph.
29. (98) Michael McDowell, Ford, 187.272 mph.
30. (13) Casey Mears, Ford, 186.922 mph.
31. (83) David Reutimann, Toyota, 186.909 mph.
32. (93) Travis Kvapil, Toyota, 186.728 mph.
33. (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 186.657 mph.
34. (47) Bobby Labonte, Toyota, 186.561 mph.
35. (19) Mike Bliss(i), Toyota, 186.528 mph.
36. (35) Josh Wise(i), Ford, 186.419 mph.
37. (32) Timmy Hill #, Ford, Owner Points
38. (30) David Stremme, Toyota, Owner Points
39. (33) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, Owner Points
40. (36) JJ Yeley, Chevrolet, Owner Points
41. (51) Regan Smith(i), Chevrolet, Owner Points
42. (7) Dave Blaney, Chevrolet, Owner Points
43. (24) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, Owner Points
1 drivers failed to qualify.
44. (87) Joe Nemechek(i), Toyota, 185.912 mph.
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