Kyle Busch claimed his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole position of the season in qualifying for Sunday's race at Loudon.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver, currently the leading candidate to claim a 'wildcard' berth in this year's Cup play-off, was the fastest earlier during Friday practice and then backed up his speed on his qualifying run, beating Hendrick Motorsports' Kasey Kahne by just three thousandths of a second.
"We unloaded with a really, really good race car," said Busch. "We just had to back up our practice time from earlier today, we were able to do that but bettered just a little bit to put us back on the pole. I feel like it's a pretty good race car too, so we'll fine tune it a little more tomorrow."
Busch's JGR team-mate Denny Hamlin was third fastest as he continues to recover from the back issues than hampered him last week at Daytona. The Michael Waltrip Racing Camrys of Martin Truex Jr and two-time Loudon winner Clint Bowyer made it an impressive four Toyotas among the five fastest in qualifying.
Stewart Haas team-mates Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart, who swept last year's races at the track, were sixth and 10th fastest respectively, split by the Hendrick trio of Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Roush Fenway's Greg Biffle was the best Ford in 11th, while points leader Matt Kenseth was only 27th.
Josh Wise was the fastest of the non-guaranteed drivers in 32nd, while Mike Bliss failed to make the field after brushing the wall during his run.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap 1. Kyle Busch Gibbs Toyota 28.548s 2. Kasey Kahne Hendrick Chevrolet 28.551s + 0.003s 3. Denny Hamlin Gibbs Toyota 28.552s + 0.004s 4. Martin Truex Jr Waltrip Toyota 28.565s + 0.017s 5. Clint Bowyer Waltrip Toyota 28.569s + 0.021s 6. Ryan Newman Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 28.578s + 0.030s 7. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet 28.583s + 0.035s 8. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet 28.595s + 0.047s 9. Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet 28.628s + 0.080s 10. Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 28.651s + 0.103s 11. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford 28.665s + 0.117s 12. Kevin Harvick Childress Chevrolet 28.666s + 0.118s 13. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet 28.730s + 0.182s 14. Kurt Busch Phoenix Chevrolet 28.735s + 0.187s 15. Brian Vickers Waltrip Toyota 28.762s + 0.214s 16. Joey Logano Gibbs Toyota 28.762s + 0.214s 17. Regan Smith Furniture Row Chevrolet 28.769s + 0.221s 18. Bobby Labonte JTG Daugherty Toyota 28.782s + 0.234s 19. David Ragan Front Row Ford 28.797s + 0.249s 20. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford 28.811s + 0.263s 21. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford 28.814s + 0.266s 22. Brad Keselowski Penske Dodge 28.836s + 0.288s 23. Aric Almirola Petty Ford 28.891s + 0.343s 24. Sam Hornish Jr Penske Dodge 28.952s + 0.404s 25. Jeff Burton Childress Chevrolet 28.972s + 0.424s 26. David Reutimann Baldwin Chevrolet 29.016s + 0.468s 27. Matt Kenseth Roush Fenway Ford 29.023s + 0.475s 28. Jamie McMurray Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet 29.023s + 0.475s 29. Landon Cassill BK Toyota 29.034s + 0.486s 30. Travis Kvapil BK Toyota 29.112s + 0.564s 31. Juan Pablo Montoya Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet 29.150s + 0.602s 32. Josh Wise Front Row Ford 29.267s + 0.719s 33. Casey Mears Germain Ford 29.336s + 0.788s 34. Joe Nemechek NEMCO Toyota 29.342s + 0.794s 35. Dave Blaney Baldwin Chevrolet 29.371s + 0.823s 36. Michael McDowell Parsons Ford 29.406s + 0.858s 37. Ken Schrader FAS Lane Ford 29.453s + 0.905s 38. JJ Yeley Robinson-Blakeney Toyota 29.463s + 0.915s 39. David Gilliland Front Row Ford 29.490s + 0.942s 40. David Stremme Inception Toyota 29.504s + 0.956s 41. Scott Riggs R3 Chevrolet 29.557s + 1.009s 42. Kelly Bires Go Green Ford 29.637s + 1.089s 43. Stephen Leicht Circle Sport Chevrolet 29.714s + 1.166s Did not qualify: Mike Bliss Humphrey Smith Toyota 29.740s + 1.192s