Kyle Busch pulled a double Saturday. The reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup champion put down a lap of 48.748 seconds, 184.634mph with just over three minutes to go in the final five round of three Saturday to secure the 19th pole of his career, his second of the season, and his first Cup pole at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The Cup pole came shortly after Busch scored the pole for the NASCAR Xfinity race. Busch is the defending winner of both races having pulled off a sweep last year. It also comes a day after Busch avoided a near disaster during practice on Friday when he nearly made contact with another car and spun. He avoided contact and his Toyota suffered minor damage.
“It means a lot,” Busch said. “It’s definitely pretty special to be running the way that we’re running and to have the success that we’ve had here the last couple of years at Indy and I’d love nothing more than to try to win here again.”
Busch’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Carl Edwards will start on the front row beside Busch in second, but the bigger story is Tony Stewart a two time Brickyard winner who will start third in his final NASCAR race at Indy.
“I think it’s a big deal here,” Stewart said of his third place starting spot. “It always has been. It seems like the more downforce they take off these cars the easier it is to race around each other. That is what you need, but it always helps when you can start up front. When you can get up there and really get working on your car in cleaner air and plan for the end of the race that is really an advantage.”
JGR driver Denny Hamlin will roll off fourth, with Penske Racing driver Brad Keselowski rounding out the top five.
“A top five on a hot day like today isn’t too shabby<” Keselowski said. “Of course we want the pole and we want to win the race. That’s the most important part is winning the race, so we can win the race from fifth.”
Keselowski’s teammate Joey Logano wasn’t as fast. He was among a group of top runners who failed to advance to the third round. They included Jimmie Johnson who was fastest in the first round, Matt Kenseth along with rookies Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney. Jeff Gordon who came out of retirement to sub of the ailing Dale Earnhardt Jr., also failed to advance and wheeled the No. 88 Chevy to a 21st place starting spot for Sunday.
Ryan Newman will start sixth, followed by Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Jamie McMurray, and Kyle Larson. Kurt Busch will start 11th, and Austin Dillon 12th. Josh Wise was the only car not to make the field. The full lineup can be found here.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Crown Royal presents the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway will have live coverage on the NBC Sports Network Sunday starting at 2:00 p.m. ET with the green flag coming at about 3:15 p.m. ET.