CONCORD, N.C. — Kyle Busch and his crew had all three elements necessary to win the pole for Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race — speed on the racetrack, speed on and off pit road and speed from the pit crew during the mandatory green-flag stop at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
With a total time of one minute, 59.112 seconds (136.006 mph) over three laps and the pit stop, Busch edged Ryan Newman in Friday’s time trials for the top starting spot in the race with a $1 miilion first prize.
Newman (135.202 mph) went out second and was the only driver other than Busch to post a sub-two-minute qualifying effort (1:59.821). Fastest in Friday’s practice, Busch was the last driver to make a qualifying attempt under the format unique to the All-Star Race.
Denny Hamlin (134.811 mph) claimed the third starting position, followed by Cup points leader Greg Biffle (134.529 mph) and Kevin Harvick (134.304 mph).
Busch won his third All-Star pole but has never won the race. Neither has his team, Joe Gibbs Racing. Busch started from the top spot last year, but Carl Edwards took home the $1 million.
Saturday’s race will be contested in five segments, four of 20 laps each followed by a 10-lap dash to the finish. The winners of the first four segments enter the pits in the top four spots for a mandatory stop before the final segment.
“We unloaded with a really fast racecar today,” Busch said. “The guys made some minor changes to it to kind of feel it out and make it better where we could. The guys did a great job there with the pit stop, coming down pit road and changing four (tires) and then getting back out there and coming back to the line pretty quick.
“The rules change every year, so I guess this year you’ve got to make sure you win a segment, so you can at least have a shot at starting up front for the final segment.”
Coming to the checkered flag, Kasey Kahne lost control of his No. 5 Chevrolet and slammed into the Turn 4 wall. Kahne did not post a qualifying time and will start from the rear of the field in a backup car.
Kahne was on sticker tires after the mandatory pit stop.
“I was just trying to get all I could and went a little too far,” Kahne said.
AJ Allmendinger won the pole for Saturday’s Sprint Showdown, which will send its top two finishers to the main event. Allmendinger covered the 1.5-mile distance in 28.057 seconds (192.465 mph) to beat Martin Truex Jr. (191.049 mph) for the top starting spot in the qualifying race.
“For me, it was the perfect lap,” said Allmendinger, who ran within inches of the Turn 4 wall on the money lap. “More than anything, the car stuck to the racetrack. We struggled a little bit in practice. The (car) had speed in it, but it wasn’t really comfortable.
“So (crew chief) Todd Gordon and the guys went to work, and I felt like that was as perfect as I could run a lap.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (191.002 mph) will start third. In addition to the top two finishers in the Showdown, the winner of the Sprint Fan Vote will transfer to the All-Star Race.