Martin Truex, Jr. Tops Cup Qualifying at Kentucky

Martin Truex, Jr. wins his fourth pole of the season
Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

Martin Truex Jr. didn't need a dress rehearsal to put on a pole-winning performance at Kentucky Speedway on Friday.

His lack of mock qualifying runs in practice did not affect the ultimate result – his first Busch Pole on the 1.5-mile track.

The defending winner of the Quaker State 400 presented by Walmart executed the fastest lap in Round 3 to win the pole for Saturday night's race at the 1.5-mile track (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

For Truex, the pole was his fourth of the season, the most among Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competitors.

"It wasn't a perfect lap by any means but it was good enough," said Truex after posting a speed of 188.890 mph (25.588-seconds). "We worked in race trim the whole time and honestly, our qualifying run, we only got one in during practice and it wasn't very good. We hit traffic.

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"] "We really had to guess on the set up for here. The first round, I was a little bit off. Some of it was driver, some of it was car. We put our heads together, came up with a plan and everybody stepped it up. It feels good. Starting up front is key, so that first pit stall will be good for here and hopefully, we can back up what we did last year tomorrow night. It's going to be tough, but it's going to be fun."

Saturday night's first-time winner Erik Jones was second, followed by Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch and Paul Menard. Ryan Blaney, Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, Daniel Suarez and Aric Almirola completed the top 12 in time trials.

Harvick topped the first session with a speed of 187.859 mph. Jones, Austin Dillon, Keselowski, Menard, Kyle Busch, Suarez, Bowyer, Newman, Blaney, Truex and Almirola completed the top 12 speeds. Chris Buescher was the first driver on the chart to run three laps in the first session but managed the 15th-fastest speed.

Truex posted a fast lap of 188.976 mph in Round 2 to lead the 12 drivers that advanced to the final round. Kyle Busch, Almirola, Keselowski, Jones, Newman, Bowyer, Kurt Busch, Harvick, Blaney, Menard and Suarez also advanced. With less than a minute to go in the round, Chase Elliott, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Austin Dillon made a second attempt but it was all for naught.

"The car hasn't drove bad from time to time," said Elliott, who will start 16th. "It just hasn't drove as fast as we like. We'll make it work."

Stenhouse used his early exit to address the comments Kyle Busch made earlier in the day about the Roush Fenway Racing driver not making an effort to apologize for wrecking him at Daytona International Speedway last Saturday. Stenhouse approached the No. 18 Toyota, where Busch was strapped into the car, prior to leaving pit road.

"I normally reach out to people when I make mistakes – and I clearly made a mistake," Stenhouse said after his qualifying run. "But with him running his mouth, I just felt like I didn't really need to call him. I just let him know that and I let him know that, ‘You're right, you do run a lot further up front but you need to choose your battles wisely cause some time when you're lapping me or when we do get our cars better, you'll be up there racing with us."

Seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson was the only Hendrick driver who failed to advance to the second round. He'll roll off 27th on Saturday.

The teams of Denny Hamlin, Matt DiBenedetto, Jesse Little and Timmy Hill did not clear tech inspection in time to qualify for the Quaker State 400 on Friday.


Pos # Driver Sponsor/Make Lap Speed
1 78 Martin Truex Jr. Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota 28.588 188.89
2 20 Erik Jones Freightliner Toyota 28.611 188.739
3 4 Kevin Harvick Busch Light Ford 28.64 188.547
4 2 Brad Keselowski Discount Tire Ford 28.664 188.39
5 18 Kyle Busch Snickers Intense Toyota 28.692 188.206
6 21 Paul Menard Menards/Quaker State Ford 28.705 188.121
7 12 Ryan Blaney DEX Imaging Ford 28.732 187.944
8 14 Clint Bowyer Haas 30 Years of the VF1 Ford 28.77 187.696
9 41 Kurt Busch Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford 28.78 187.63
10 31 Ryan Newman Caterpillar Chevrolet 28.866 187.071
11 19 Daniel Suarez ARRIS Toyota 28.877 187
12 10 Aric Almirola Smithfield Ford 28.895 186.884
13 3 Austin Dillon AAA Chevrolet 28.851 187.169
14 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Fifth Third Bank Ford 28.866 187.071
15 88 Alex Bowman Axalta Chevrolet 28.935 186.625
16 9 Chase Elliott NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet 28.947 186.548
17 6 Matt Kenseth Performance Plus Motor Oil Ford 28.951 186.522
18 42 Kyle Larson Credit One Bank Chevrolet 28.979 186.342
19 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford 28.981 186.329
20 37 Chris Buescher Gain Chevrolet 29.004 186.181
21 24 William Byron
Liberty University Chevrolet 29.01 186.143
22 1 Jamie McMurray Arctic Cat Chevrolet 29.05 185.886
23 34 Michael McDowell Love's Travel Stops/Roller Bites Ford 29.116 185.465
24 38 David Ragan MDS Transport Ford 29.234 184.716
25 43 Bubba Wallace
Petty's Garage/Medallion Bank Chevrolet 29.263 184.533
26 47 AJ Allmendinger Kroger ClickList Chevrolet 29.271 184.483
27 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's/Jimmie Johnson Foundation Chevrolet 29.281 184.42
28 13 Ty Dillon GEICO Chevrolet 29.533 182.846
29 95 Kasey Kahne Dark Matter presented by Ionomy Chevrolet 29.582 182.543
30 15 Ross Chastain(i) Chevrolet 29.805 181.178
31 72 Corey LaJoie Monarch Chevrolet 29.936 180.385
32 23 JJ Yeley Steakhouse Elite Toyota 30.022 179.868
33 0 Landon Cassill StarCom Fiber Chevrolet 30.15 179.104
34 51 BJ McLeod Prefund Capital Chevrolet 30.357 177.883
35 99 Garrett Smithley Victory Lane Quick Oil Change Chevrolet 30.649 176.188
36 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Office Toyota 0 0
37 32 Matt DiBenedetto Keen Parts/ Ford 0 0
38 7 Jesse Little Chevrolet 0 0

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