Kurt Busch takes surprise pole
|By Diego Mejia||Saturday, June 4th 2011, 19:00 GMT|
Penske's Kurt Busch claimed a surprise pole position for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kansas, edging Earnhardt Ganassi's Juan Pablo Montoya.
Busch had been unhappy with the balance of his car during Friday's practice sessions and actually ended up spinning out of Turn 4 during a qualifying simulation run late in the final hour of practice.
However, his low position on the leaderboard ended up as a lucky break as based on this year's qualifying rules, the order for cars to go on track is determined by the best practice times, the fastest going out last when track conditions are usually at their best.
With Cup qualifying taking place before noon this time, those running first in the order after being slowest in practice got the coolest track temperatures of the session as the sun quickly brought grip levels down for most of the fastest from Friday's practice.
Montoya ran fourth in the order and set the benchmark before Busch came out next and pipped him for what turned out to be pole position for Sunday's 400-miler at Kansas.
"This is a great feeling, especially after yesterday when we spun in practice and had to repair the car with some of the front end damage," said Busch after Penske's second consecutive pole of the season, following Brad Keselowski's at Charlotte last week.
"The way the practice was a struggle for us, no we didn't expect to be in the pole and that early [run] definitely helped us, it didn't hurt... This is definitely a surprise, we're happy for it. It's been almost a year since we had a pole."
Cloud cover late in the session allowed some to get close to Busch's time, his brother Kyle actually ending up about a tenth short of pole and placed third for Joe Gibbs Racing.
His team-mate Joey Logano - fastest in practice - was fifth ahead of the similar Toyota of Red Bull's Brian Vickers, putting three Camrys in the top five on the grid.
Jamie McMurray, also an early runner in the order, ended up in sixth ahead of points leader Carl Edwards, who looks strong ahead of Sunday's race as well as his Roush Fenway team-mates, once again fast on the 1.5-mile tracks.
Meanwhile reigning champion Jimmie Johnson had his worst qualifying of the season, battling a loose car to end up 31st on the grid a week after his first DNF of the year due to an engine failure at Charlotte.
David Stremme ran last in the order with the group of those having to qualify on time, setting the fastest time among them with 29th place. Tony Raines and TJ Bell failed to qualify.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap 1. Kurt Busch Penske Dodge 30.901s 2. Juan Pablo Montoya Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet 31.007s + 0.106s 3. Kyle Busch Gibbs Toyota 31.020s + 0.119s 4. Brian Vickers Red Bull Toyota 31.036s + 0.135s 5. Joey Logano Gibbs Toyota 31.061s + 0.160s 6. Jamie McMurray Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet 31.087s + 0.186s 7. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford 31.097s + 0.196s 8. Martin Truex Jr Waltrip Toyota 31.104s + 0.203s 9. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet 31.108s + 0.207s 10. Kevin Harvick Childress Chevrolet 31.125s + 0.224s 11. Regan Smith Furniture Row Chevrolet 31.138s + 0.237s 12. Ryan Newman Stewart Haas Chevrolet 31.144s + 0.243s 13. Tony Stewart Stewart Haas Chevrolet 31.149s + 0.248s 14. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford 31.169s + 0.268s 15. Denny Hamlin Gibbs Toyota 31.179s + 0.278s 16. Jeff Burton Childress Chevrolet 31.196s + 0.295s 17. Kasey Kahne Red Bull Toyota 31.208s + 0.307s 18. Mark Martin Hendrick Chevrolet 31.231s + 0.330s 19. David Ragan Roush Fenway Ford 31.240s + 0.339s 20. Bobby Labonte JTG Daugherty Toyota 31.255s + 0.354s 21. Matt Kenseth Roush Fenway Ford 31.258s + 0.357s 22. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet 31.259s + 0.358s 23. David Reutimann Waltrip Toyota 31.264s + 0.363s 24. Landon Cassill Phoenix Chevrolet 31.265s + 0.364s 25. Brad Keselowski Penske Dodge 31.303s + 0.402s 26. AJ Allmendinger Petty Ford 31.353s + 0.452s 27. Clint Bowyer Childress Chevrolet 31.389s + 0.488s 28. Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet 31.417s + 0.516s 29. David Stremme Inception Chevrolet 31.418s + 0.517s 30. Travis Kvapil Front Row Ford 31.446s + 0.545s 31. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet 31.473s + 0.572s 32. JJ Yeley Whitney Chevrolet 31.484s + 0.583s 33. Casey Mears Germain Toyota 31.487s + 0.586s 34. Joe Nemechek NEMCO Toyota 31.497s + 0.596s 35. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford 31.533s + 0.632s 36. Scott Riggs Whitney Chevrolet 31.582s + 0.681s 37. Michael McDowell HP Toyota 31.616s + 0.715s 38. David Gilliland Front Row Ford 31.625s + 0.724s 39. Andy Lally TRG Chevrolet 31.655s + 0.754s 40. Patrick Carpentier FAS Lane Ford 31.852s + 0.951s 41. Johnny Sauter Gordon Dodge 31.975s + 1.074s 42. Dave Blaney Baldwin Chevrolet 32.173s + 1.272s 43. Mike Skinner Germain Toyota 31.753s + 0.852s Did not qualify: Tony Raines Front Row Ford 31.820s + 0.919s TJ Bell LTD Toyota 31.846s + 0.945s