Rain forced the cancellation of NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying at Chicagoland Speedway, and the field will be set by the results of today's first practice for the MyAFibStory.Com 400 on Sunday.
The washout means that Kyle Busch will start first in Sunday's MyAFibStory.com 400 (2 p.m. ET, ESPN), the opening battle of the 10-race Chase playoffs, according to the NASCAR rule book. Busch's Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota was the fastest in Friday's opening Sprint Cup practice with a lap of 191.442 mph.
Ryan Newman will start alongside Busch on the front row for Sunday's 400-miler after posting the second-best lap in the first practice at 191.042. Carl Edwards, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and defending race winner Matt Kenseth complete the top five starters.
Defending series champion Jimmie Johnson will start seventh Sunday. Brad Keselowski, a four-time winner this year and the Chase's top seed, will start 25th.
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What was your team's strategy to be quickest in practice at Chicagoland on Friday?
"Practice for us went pretty well. It started out slow, but guys did a real nice job on the M&M's Camry today to get us to where we needed to be. Everybody back at the shop is building some great stuff and TRD (Toyota Racing Development) making some improvements for the Chase here this weekend and whatnot. Having a good time there in practice means a lot, but there's obviously a lot of things that need to happen in the race this weekend for us and getting off to a good start and being able to carry that into the next 10 weeks."
What will your strategy be in Saturday's practice after the rain passes?
"You hope track conditions are similar to what you would race on Sunday, but like (Ryan) Newman said, if there not, schedule is a schedule. We're going to practice. When an opportune time presents itself, you have to make the best of the moment and whether it's practice or the race."
Does running this fast in practice and starting Sunday's race up front give you confidence going into the Chase?
"A little bit, yeah. I think today was a little bit better practice session for myself and for the 20 (Matt Kenseth). I talked to Matt a little bit, he felt more positive about things. I haven't had a chance to talk with Denny (Hamlin) yet, but Matt jumped up there to the top of the board early and then we were able to do so late. I think Matt was still fifth or sixth or something like that. It's a good representation for where we feel like we want to be and where we should be. But again, it's early. It's first practice and not everybody at the end of that first practice was in qualifying trim making qualifying runs. A couple guys did early on and whether the track picked up later or everybody just got better later in practice, speeds surely got quicker."