Kyle Busch Takes Record-Breaking Pole at Kentucky

Kyle Busch won his third Coors Light Pole Award of the season
Robert Laberge/Getty Images

For Kyle Busch, the second time was the charm on Friday at Kentucky Speedway – because there was no third time.

With the threat of a lightning storm imminent at the 1.5-mile track, NASCAR shortened knockout qualifying from three rounds to two, putting Busch on the pole for Saturday's Quaker State 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

By the time NASCAR opted to cancel the final round, Busch had already run a track-record lap, touring the repaved speedway in 28.379 seconds (190.282 mph). That put him .013 seconds ahead of Martin Truex Jr, who will start second for the fifth time in 18 races this season and second to Busch for the third time.

The Coors Light Pole Award was Busch's third of the season, his second in seven tries at Kentucky and the 22nd of his career. A two-time race winner at the track, Busch collected one of his victories from the pole in the inaugural Monster Energy race at Kentucky in 2011.

And with stronger runs as the season has progressed, Busch feels he's on the verge of a breakthrough victory.

"The guys have done an amazing job this year at building faster race cars as we've gone on this year," said Busch, who also won the pole for the NASCAR XFINITY Series race, which was postponed from Friday until noon Saturday because of the same storm.

"We started out a little behind. Just right there so close having an opportunity to win each and every week, we just need to bust through and get it to happen. The Snickers car this weekend has been fast, and we're looking forward to taking this Toyota Camry to Victory Lane here in Kentucky."

Matt Kenseth, the 2013 Kentucky winner, was third fastest in the decisive second round, followed by Jamie McMurray and Denny Hamlin, as Joe Gibbs Racing – winless through the first 17 races – garnered three of the top five starting spots. With Truex second on the grid, Toyotas hold four of the top five positions.

Ryan Blaney, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Daniel Suarez and three-time Kentucky winner Brad Keselowski will take the green flag from positions six through 10, respectively.

Series leader Kyle Larson, who was fastest in qualifying trim during final practice, will start 40th, after his No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet failed to clear pre-qualifying inspection in time to run a lap in the first round.

"We will be fine from the back," Larson said. "Our Target Chevy was really good today, I thought, in race trim – better than I've ever felt at Kentucky.

"Obviously, it will be hard to pass, but we also thought the same thing at Texas, and we didn't get to qualify there, and I cruised right to the front, no problem. So, we will see."

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start 13th in his final race at Kentucky Speedway in the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Earnhardt failed to crack the top 12 by .011 seconds, but his performance was an improvement over two lackluster practice sessions.

"Compared to where we were when we unloaded, it was a great improvement," Earnhardt said. "I didn't expect too much. I don't qualify that well, especially without a mock run, and I didn't anticipate doing well.

"But they worked on the car, and they made a lot of adjustments, and we kept going out there and making runs and ended up in the top 15. So I'm pretty happy with that; we almost made it into the top 12 without even making a mock run in practice. The guys are working real hard."

QUALIFYING RESULTS

Pos. # Driver Make Sponsor Lap Behind Speed
1 18 Kyle Busch Toyota Snickers 28.379 0.000 190.282
2 78 Martin Truex Jr Toyota Furniture Row 28.392 -0.013 190.194
3 20 Matt Kenseth Toyota Circle K 28.460 -0.081 189.740
4 1 Jamie McMurray Chevy CESSNA 28.464 -0.085 189.713
5 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Freight 28.468 -0.089 189.687
6 21 Ryan Blaney Ford Motorcraft 28.487 -0.108 189.560
7 4 Kevin Harvick Ford Busch Light 28.488 -0.109 189.553
8 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevy Lowe's 28.523 -0.144 189.321
9 19 Daniel Suarez Toyota ARRIS 28.528 -0.149 189.288
10 2 Brad Keselowski Ford Miller Lite 28.539 -0.160 189.215
11 22 Joey Logano Ford Shell Pennzoil 28.555 -0.176 189.109
12 24 Chase Elliott Chevy NAPA 28.595 -0.216 188.844
13 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevy Nationwide 28.606 -0.227 188.772
14 77 Erik Jones Toyota SiriusXM 28.609 -0.230 188.752
15 41 Kurt Busch Ford Haas Automation 28.619 -0.240 188.686
16 14 Clint Bowyer Ford Rush Truck Centers 28.634 -0.255 188.587
17 43 Darrell Wallace Jr Ford Smithfield 28.656 -0.277 188.442
18 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr Ford Fifth Third Bank 28.676 -0.297 188.311
19 6 Trevor Bayne Ford Roush Performance 28.676 -0.297 188.311
20 10 Danica Patrick Ford Nature's Bakery 28.797 -0.418 187.520
21 95 Michael McDowell Chevy WRL General Contractors 28.991 -0.612 186.265
22 37 Chris Buescher Chevy Breyers 29.002 -0.623 186.194
23 5 Kasey Kahne Chevy Mountain Dew 29.013 -0.634 186.123
24 27 Paul Menard Chevy Sylvania / Menards 29.048 -0.669 185.899
25 3 Austin Dillon Chevy Dow 29.101 -0.722 185.561
26 38 David Ragan Ford Dockside Logistics 29.129 -0.750 185.382
27 13 Ty Dillon Chevy GEICO 29.221 -0.842 184.799
28 47 AJ Allmendinger Chevy Kroger Click List 29.228 -0.849 184.754
29 31 Ryan Newman Chevy Caterpillar 29.247 -0.868 184.634
30 32 Matt DiBenedetto Ford TBD 29.367 -0.988 183.880
31 83 Ryan Sieg Toyota JAS Expedited Trucking 29.728 -1.349 181.647
32 72 Cole Whitt Chevy RTIC Coolers 29.790 -1.411 181.269
33 15 Reed Sorenson Toyota Losers Bar & Grill 29.921 -1.542 180.475
34 23 Joey Gase Toyota Best Home Furnishings 30.063 -1.684 179.623
35 34 Landon Cassill Ford Love's Travel Stops 30.193 -1.814 178.849
36 33 Jeffrey Earnhardt Chevy Hulu 30.338 -1.959 177.995
37 51 BJ McLeod Chevy TBD 30.490 -2.111 177.107
38 66 Timmy Hill Chevy TBD 30.544 -2.165 176.794
39 55 Gray Gaulding Toyota Checkit4Andretti 30.603 -2.224 176.453
40 42 Kyle Larson Chevy Target 0.000 28.379 0.000

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