Kurt Busch leads SHR Ford 1-2-3-4 in Dega Quals

Kurt Busch leads Ford Slaughter
Kurt Busch leads Ford Slaughter

All four Stewart-Haas Racing cars were amply endowed with speed for Saturday’s knockout qualifying session at Talladega Superspeedway.

Kurt Busch was just glad he got the pick of the litter.

“Four Stewart-Haas Fords — I’m really happy that I got the fast one," Busch quipped after winning the pole for Sunday’s 1000Bulbs.com 500 (2 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) and leading an SHR sweep of the top four starting spots for the second race in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs’ Round of 12.

The Busch Pole Award was Busch’s fifth of the season and the 27th of his career. What’s more, his final-round lap at 195.804 mph (48.906 seconds) ended a quest dating to his first race in the Cup series in 2000.

“We’re on the pole!" Busch said. “This is my first restrictor-plate pole ever. Ever! It took me almost 20 years. I got one!"

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]Busch beat teammate Clint Bowyer (195.301 mph) for the top starting spot by .126 seconds, a huge margin relative to the rest of the top 12. Kevin Harvick (195.186 mph) qualified third, followed by Aric Almirola (194.571 mph).

“With Stewart-Haas cars 1-2-3-4 at this race in the playoffs, it really sets the tone," Busch said. “Now we’ve got to execute on Sunday."

The time trials, however, were a tale of two organizations, not just one. Behind the four SHR entries were all four Hendrick Motorsports drivers, with last week’s Dover winner, Chase Elliott, leading the way into the fifth starting position. Jimmie Johnson, Alex Bowman and William Byron were close behind.

“With all four guys in the top 12, it’s a strong showing for us," said Byron, whose lap time of 49.420 seconds (193.768 mph) was identical to Bowman’s. “That should be good for Sunday. Qualifying doesn’t reflect totally on how things will shake out Sunday and how you are going to race. But it should be fine.

“With the four of us together at the start, we have an opportunity to stay in front of some of the possible situations, but you don’t control much out there, and everything gets so shuffled during the race, it’s hard to know. But I feel good about where we are right now. We’ll see what happens."

All four SHR drivers are competing for the series championship. Elliott and Bowman are still title contenders for Hendrick.

Playoff driver Kyle Busch qualified ninth in the fastest Toyota, with reigning series champion Martin Truex Jr. claiming the 11th starting position.

“You always want to make the second round, and you hope you can do a little better," said Truex, who has never won a restrictor-plate race. “We thought we picked up some speed, and we gained one spot, beat the 17 (12th place qualifier Ricky Stenhouse Jr.).

“Better than none, and we’ll go get them tomorrow."

The remaining four playoff drivers qualified as follows: Brad Keselowski 18th, Ryan Blaney 19th, Joey Logano 20th and Kyle Larson 34th.

With the playoff field set to be cut from 12 drivers to eight on Oct. 21 at Kansas Speedway, Bowyer and Almirola currently are tied for ninth in the standings, 10 points below the cut line.

The No. 72 Chevrolet driven by Corey LaJoie failed post-qualifying inspection and will go to the rear on Sunday.

Lineup

Pos No. Driver Car Time Speed
1 41 Kurt Busch (P) Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford 48.906 195.804
2 14 Clint Bowyer (P) Cummins/Rush Truck Centers Ford 49.032 195.301
3 4 Kevin Harvick (P) Jimmy John's Ford 49.061 195.186
4 10 Aric Almirola (P) Smithfield Bacon for Life Ford 49.216 194.571
5 9 Chase Elliott (P) NAPA Nightvision Lamps Chevrolet 49.260 194.397
6 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's for Pros Chevrolet 49.317 194.172
7 88 Alex Bowman (P) Nationwide Chevrolet 49.420 193.768
8 24 William Byron # Hertz Chevrolet 49.420 193.768
9 18 Kyle Busch (P) M&M's Toyota 49.439 193.693
10 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Ground Toyota 49.519 193.380
11 78 Martin Truex Jr. (P) Bass Pro Shops/5-hour ENERGY Toyota 49.635 192.928
12 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. SunnyD Ford 49.661 192.827
13 19 Daniel Suarez Stanley Toyota 49.729 192.564
14 34 Michael McDowell Speedco/Rotella Ford 49.743 192.509
15 20 Erik Jones Craftsman Toyota 49.833 192.162
16 38 David Ragan 1000Bulbs.com Ford 49.876 191.996
17 43 Darrell Wallace Jr. # Medallion Bank/Petty's Garage Chevrolet 49.892 191.935
18 2 Brad Keselowski (P) Miller Lite Ford 49.901 191.900
19 12 Ryan Blaney (P) REV Ford 49.945 191.731
20 22 Joey Logano (P) Shell Pennzoil Ford 50.035 191.386
21 3 Austin Dillon American Ethanol e15 Chevrolet 50.085 191.195
22 31 Ryan Newman Liberty National Chevrolet 50.091 191.172
23 47 AJ Allmendinger Kroger ClickList Chevrolet 50.140 190.985
24 6 Trevor Bayne AdvoCare Rehydrate Ford 50.141 190.981
25 95 Regan Smith Procore Chevrolet 50.225 190.662
26 37 Chris Buescher Bush's Chili Beans Chevrolet 50.228 190.651
27 32 Matt DiBenedetto Dude Wipes Ford 50.416 189.940
28 62 Brendan Gaughan(i) BeardOilDist./SouthPointHotelChevrolet 50.478 189.706
29 13 Ty Dillon GEICO Chevrolet 50.480 189.699
30 21 Paul Menard Menards/Dutch Boy Ford 50.491 189.658
31 1 Jamie McMurray Winter Park Construction/Arctic Cat Chevrolet 50.533 189.500
32 23 JJ Yeley(i) Steakhouse Elite Ford 50.565 189.380
33 7 DJ Kennington(i) Wilride Transport Ltd Chevrolet 50.604 189.234
34 42 Kyle Larson (P) Credit One Bank Chevrolet 50.739 188.731
35 96 Jeffrey Earnhardt Xtreme Concepts/iK9 Toyota 50.837 188.367
36 15 Ross Chastain(i) XchangeofAmerica/SolomonPlumbingChevrol 51.217 186.969
37 00 Joey Gase(i) PFK Foundation Chevrolet 51.292 186.696
38 99 Landon Cassill(i) StarCom Fiber Chevrolet 51.311 186.627
39 51 Cody Ware Jacob Companies Chevrolet 52.289 183.136
40 72 Corey LaJoie Winn Dixie Chevrolet 0.000 0.000

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