Kyle Busch is one step closer to making a season turnaround, and making history. Busch put down a lap of 48.051 seconds, 187.301 mph to win the pole for Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“It was good,” Busch said of his lap. “We obviously have had a really fast Skittles Camry here this weekend. We only focused on race trim stuff there in that abbreviated practices we had this morning and so guys did a great job though. We were just trying to work on the handle for what the race is going to be like later on tomorrow. Felt like we did a pretty good job of that, but wasn’t sure anything about qualifying. So obviously the guys did a good job of listening to what our teammates had and what setup they had and of course just what they were able to do and so they put that in our car and it was pretty fast. It worked pretty good.”
Busch put down the lap with less 30 seconds to go Saturday for his second consecutive pole at Indy, and his third of the season. This season has not been kind to Busch who has not visited a Cup Victory Lane since he won this race last year. Should be pull off the win, he will become the first driver in all of motorsports to win three consecutive oval races at the famed speedway.
“I’m certainly optimistic about it,” Busch said. “I do feel like we’ve got a great shot. I didn’t know what we had at all going into qualifying, but obviously our car’s got some pretty decent speed, so we’ve just got to keep it there and stay up front and lead some laps and of course lead the last one.”
Kevin Harvick briefly held the provisional pole, but had to settle for second. Jamie McMurray, the 2010 Brickyard 400 winner, will start third after being fastest in the first round, with Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin completing the top five.
“For us,” Harvick said. “I felt like in turn one I just got a little too loose and slid the back of the car from the center out of the corner and probably gave up a little bit too much in turn two just because I didn’t want to do it again and have the problem keep compounding, trying to make up time and you actually just cause more problems.”
The pole for Busch, who was fastest in the second round, is the 22nd of his career.
Kyle Larson won’t start at the rear of the field Sunday. But he won’t be starting in the top 24. Larson struggled all day with his Chevy, and nearly spun on his lap in round 1. He briefly held the cutoff spot before being knocked out by Kasey Kahne.
“We’ve been off kind of all day, I feel like, with our Target Chevy,” Larson said. “I made an attempt to run before that run and then I got really tight coming to the green so I aborted and came back down pit road and I think they adjusted and freed it up some and I was just extremely loose the whole lap. Yeah, I don’t know. It’s disappointing. But we’ve been off all day so I’m sure we’ll work hard on it overnight and hopefully have a good race tomorrow.”
Martin Truex Jr. will start sixth, Joey Logano seventh, Ryan Newman eighth, Erik Jones ninth and Ryan Blaney tenth. Brad Keselowski and Kurt Busch were the final two cars to transfer to the final round and will start 11th and 12th respectively.
With 40 entries, no one was sent home. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Brickyard 400 will be shown live on NBC starting at 2:30 p.m. ET.