NASCAR: Kenseth earns LV pole with record-setting run
LAS VEGAS (AP) – Matt Kenseth was all too aware of his lousy qualifying record, and even with a fast car, he figured he’d screw up his Friday lap around Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
He didn’t, though, instead turning a flawless lap at 188.884 mph to set a track record. It was the fifth pole of Kenseth’s career, and first since Darlington in 2009.
“Five in 12 years? That’s a little better than I thought,” he deadpanned. “Qualifying is not my strong suit but I knew we had a really fast car. Honestly this is the most nervous I have been before qualifying in probably five years because I knew we had a shot at the pole. I didn’t want to mess up a fast car.”
Kenseth, who broke Kurt Busch’s year-old qualifying record of 188.719, will attempt to break his 72-race winless streak in Sunday’s race. His last victory was in 2009 at California.
Marcos Ambrose qualified second, while Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle – Kenseth’s teammates at Roush Fenway Racing – allowed Ford to sweep the top four spots. All of them are powered by Roush engines.
Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Joey Logano qualified fifth and sixth. Busch, the current points leader, was briefly on the pole and trying to make sure Kurt or Kyle Busch won the top starting spot for the fourth consecutive year.
Instead, Ambrose knocked Busch down a spot with a quick lap that lifted the Australian’s spirits after a disappointing start to his first season with Richard Petty Motorsports.
“My team has really supported me through a slow start,” Ambrose said. “I felt some pressure coming in here and I really wanted to step up.”
AJ Allmendinger, Ambrose’s teammate, qualified seventh and was followed by Ryan Newman in a Chevrolet, Martin Truex Jr. in a Toyota and Mark Martin in a Chevrolet.
David Ragan, whose Ford was one of the fastest cars during practice, spun on his qualifying lap and failed to post a time. He will start Sunday’s race from the 42nd position.
Kurt Busch, last year’s pole winner, was the highest qualifying Dodge at 22nd.