Kyle Busch was a happy guy Friday. Shortly after winning the pole for the NASCAR Xfinity race, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver broke the track qualifying record to win the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series pole for Saturday nights Quaker State 400.
The three rounds were shortened to two due to lightening from storms that threatened the entire session. Busch put down his lap, 28.379 seconds, 190.282 miles per hour beating the old track record of 28.603,188.791, set by Brad Keselowski in 2014 at 7:14 of the second, and what turned out to be the final round.
It was Busch’s 22nd pole of his Cup career, his first at Kentucky, and his third of the season; a season where he has yet to win a Cup race.
“The guys have done an amazing job this year at building faster race cars as we’ve gone on this year, we started out a little behind<” Busch said. “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.”
Martin Truex Jr. will start in a familiar place; second. It’s his fifth second place starting spot of the season and his fourth runner up starting spot in the last six races.
“I think we’ve qualified second like five times now which stinks a little bit,” Truex said. “But we’ll get our pole soon and we’ll go get them tomorrow night.”
Matt Kenseth will roll off third followed by Jamie McMurray and Denny Hamlin rounding out the top five.
The biggest loser of the afternoon, was series points leader Kyle Larson. For the third time this season Larson‘s car failed tech enough times that he was unable to get on track to make a lap; he will start from the rear of the field Saturday.
“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.”
Ryan Blaney, Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Daniel Suarez, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Chase Elliott round out the top 12. Dale Earnhardt Jr. in his final race as a full-time Cup driver at Kentucky will start 13th.
Having poles for both races will make for a long Saturday for Busch. The same storm system that shortened the Cup qualifying session, postponed the Xfinity race until Saturday making for a NASCAR double header for the second week in a row.
“It’s going to make for a long day for sure,” Busch said. “It’s going to be 95 degrees and hot and sunny during the first one and it will make the second one at night a little better. Still going to be a long, long day.”
With 40 cars entered no team was sent home. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series Quaker State 400 gets the green flag just after 8:00 p.m. ET Saturday with live coverage on the NBC Sports Network.
The full lineup and qualifying results can be found here.