Truex wins pole in Kansas

Martin Truex Jr.
Martin Truex Jr.

You can’t blame Martin Truex Jr. for looking ahead.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series leader didn’t need to win the pole position at Kansas Speedway, having already qualified for the NASCAR Playoffs’ Round of 8 with a victory two weeks ago at Charlotte.

But by posting the fastest lap in Friday’s knockout qualifying session at the 1.5-mile track, Truex got a leg up on a trip to the Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, because the time trials at Kansas came with a significant bonus — first choice of pit stalls for the Oct. 29 Round of 8 opener at Martinsville Speedway.

For the record, Truex ran the fastest lap of the afternoon in the final round of qualifying for Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 (on NBCSN at 3 p.m. ET), covering the distance in 28.719 seconds (188.029 mph) to beat Kevin Harvick (187.682 mph) for the top starting spot by .053 seconds.

But Truex had to push his car to the limit in the final round to earn his third Coors Light Pole Award of the season, his second at Kansas and the 15th of his career.

“I was shaking a little — I’m not going to lie," Truex said. “My heart was beating. It gets the adrenaline going so high to put down a lap like that, to go the fastest you’ve gone all day in that final round.

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]“We put it all together. We got the balance better, and I stepped up and put it on the line out there, and it stuck. The commitment level was high, and the car handled it well. That’s always a good combination."

Ryan Blaney had qualified third but his time was disallowed following post-qualifying inspection as it was found that the package tray on the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford did not maintain its original shape. As a result of that, Blaney will start from the 40th position in Sunday’s race.

Matt Kenseth will start third and Denny Hamlin fourth, as playoff drivers garnered the top four spots on the grid. Daniel Suarez was fifth, followed by Erik Jones and Kyle Busch, as Toyota drivers claimed six of the top seven starting positions, the only exception being the Ford of Harvick.

Because qualifying at Martinsville is on the same day as the race, pit selection at the .526-mile short track was tied to qualifying at Kansas, where the No. 1 pit stall gives a driver unfettered egress from pit road.

“It was definitely on our minds," said Truex, who has won a series-best six races in a dream season for the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing team. “We talked about it. It was like ‘It’d be pretty nice to go to Martinsville and have the No. 1 pit stall.’

“It was definitely on our minds, but I don’t know if it really played into how we got the job done or not. But it was definitely good timing, more than anything, because that’s going to be huge for us going into the Round of 8 next week."

Harvick, the 2014 series champion described his qualifying session as “three sketchy laps," but feels he has a competitive car for the race that will trim the playoff field from 12 drivers to eight.

“I think we have a car that can be capable of staying up there and hopefully having a chance to win the race at the end," Harvick said. “It’s a good start to the weekend. That’s half the battle when you’re trying to collect stage points in the first stage and get pit stall selection and try and gain all the advantages that you can on Friday.

“That’s something that our team did a good job at this year. I feel like our cars are a lot faster from the beginning of the year on the mile-and-a-half race tracks, and we’re on the game. It’s been a fun few weeks."

Seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson, who currently leads Kyle Busch by seven points for the final spot in the Round of 8, and will start 12th. Playoff driver Jamie McMurray qualified eighth in the fastest Chevrolet.

Playoff drivers Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott will start 13th and 14th, respectively. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., the only playoff driver who failed to make the second round, will take the green flag from 24th.

Lineup

Pos Car Driver Team Time Speed
1 78 Martin Truex Jr. (P) Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Toyota 28.719 188.029
2 4 Kevin Harvick (P) Jimmy John's Ford 28.772 187.682
3 20 Matt Kenseth (P) DeWalt Flexvolt Toyota 28.784 187.604
4 11 Denny Hamlin (P) FedEx Express Toyota 28.806 187.461
5 19 Daniel Suarez # ARRIS Toyota 28.891 186.909
6 77 Erik Jones # 5-hour ENERGY Extra Strength Toyota 28.921 186.716
7 18 Kyle Busch (P) M&M's Halloween Toyota 28.981 186.329
8 1 Jamie McMurray (P) Cessna Chevrolet 29.089 185.637
9 14 Clint Bowyer Haas Automation Ford 29.095 185.599
10 2 Brad Keselowski (P) Miller Lite Ford 29.213 184.849
11 3 Austin Dillon DOW Chevrolet 29.333 184.093
12 48 Jimmie Johnson (P) Lowe's Chevrolet 29.039 185.957
13 42 Kyle Larson (P) Credit One Bank Chevrolet 29.051 185.880
14 24 Chase Elliott (P) NAPA Chevrolet 29.069 185.765
15 41 Kurt Busch Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford 29.146 185.274
16 95 Michael McDowell TWD Chevrolet 29.160 185.185
17 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford 29.193 184.976
18 31 Ryan Newman Caterpillar Chevrolet 29.194 184.970
19 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Nationwide Chevrolet 29.217 184.824
20 37 Chris Buescher Scott Towels Chevrolet 29.240 184.679
21 5 Kasey Kahne UniFirst Chevrolet 29.263 184.533
22 10 Danica Patrick Code 3 Associates Ford 29.269 184.496
23 27 Paul Menard Richmond/Menards Chevrolet 29.314 184.212
24 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (P) Fastenal Ford 29.421 183.542
25 43 Aric Almirola Smithfield Ford 29.429 183.492
26 47 AJ Allmendinger Kroger ClickLIst Chevrolet 29.553 182.723
27 38 David Ragan TheHouse.com Ford 29.656 182.088
28 6 Trevor Bayne AdvoCare Ford 29.660 182.063
29 13 Ty Dillon # GEICO Chevrolet 29.682 181.928
30 32 Matt DiBenedetto Can-Am/Kappa Ford 29.698 181.830
31 34 Landon Cassill Love's Travel Stops Ford 30.143 179.146
32 83 Brett Moffitt(i) Earthwater Toyota 30.149 179.110
33 55 Gray Gaulding # Harrah's North Kansas City Toyota 30.225 178.660
34 23 Corey LaJoie # Dr Pepper Toyota 30.235 178.601
35 72 Cole Whitt TriStar Motorsports Chevrolet 30.245 178.542
36 51 BJ McLeod(i) Spoonful of Music Foundation Chevrolet 30.394 177.667
37 15 Reed Sorenson Low T Centers Chevrolet 30.445 177.369
38 33 Jeffrey Earnhardt hulu Chevrolet 30.530 176.875
39 00 Derrike Cope StarCom Fiber Chevrolet 0.000 0.000
40 21 Ryan Blaney (P) Omnicraft Auto Parts Ford 0.000 0.000

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