Kenseth takes Darlington Cup pole

Matt Kenseth claimed his first pole position of the season in qualifying for the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway

Kenseth takes Darlington Cup pole

In a rare result for the Roush Fenway driver who had not been on pole since 2005, he was able to beat the opposition at one of NASCAR's toughest tracks. He set a lap of 27.394 seconds at an average speed of 179.514 mph during a delayed qualifying session following heavy rain in the early afternoon.

"Whenever you run that fast it's the car," said Kenseth after scoring the fourth pole position of his career. "You can only go as fast as the car will carry you and the team did a great job of giving me a fast car today, so I'm really looking forward to tomorrow night."

Jeff Gordon, who had been fastest in the final practice session, came closest to beating Kenseth's benchmark, deciding to run only one lap after feeling there was nothing else he could have extracted out of his car. The points leader came within a tenth of a second of the polesitter.

Ryan Newman was third, making the second row of the grid for the second time this year, while Sam Hornish Jr surprised with an impressive first qualifying lap which ranked him fourth at the end of the session, following a few brushes with the wall and a spin during practice.

"The lap was good," said Hornish. "We were pretty devastated when it started raining before qualifying because we knew that we could qualify a lot better than 30th. We were really happy that everything dried up and had the opportunity to go out and make a qualifying lap."

Also impressive was Joey Logano, who claimed his best qualifying result of his rookie season thus far with fifth. The Joe Gibbs driver was fastest among the Toyotas in his first outing at the track known as 'too tough to tame'.

Marcos Ambrose rounded out the top ten in a strong effort for the Australian, while two-time Darlington winner Greg Biffle will start behind him in 11th, sharing the sixth row with veteran Mark Martin.

Behind them Casey Mears will start 13th - his best starting spot of the year - while last year's winner Kyle Busch will line up beside him.

Reigning champion Jimmie Johnson crashed after losing control of his car at turn four and thus he was unable to set a time. He will see the green flag wave from the penultimate row of the grid.

Before qualifying David Reutimann and rookie Scott Speed were forced to change to their back-up cars following contact with the barrier during the first practice session of the day.

Speed had a further brush with it in the second session and then failed to make the field on his qualifying attempt. Jeremy Mayfield also failed to qualify.

Pos Driver Car Speed Time Gap 1. Matt Kenseth Ford 179.514 27.394 2. Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 178.861 27.494 + 0.100 3. Ryan Newman Chevrolet 178.757 27.510 + 0.116 4. Sam Hornish Jr Dodge 178.744 27.512 + 0.118 5. Joey Logano Toyota 178.549 27.542 + 0.148 6. Jeff Burton Chevrolet 178.510 27.548 + 0.154 7. Kasey Kahne Dodge 178.407 27.564 + 0.170 8. Kurt Busch Dodge 178.400 27.565 + 0.171 9. Carl Edwards Ford 178.019 27.624 + 0.230 10. Marcos Ambrose Toyota 177.826 27.654 + 0.260 11. Greg Biffle Ford 177.646 27.682 + 0.288 12. Mark Martin Chevrolet 177.300 27.736 + 0.342 13. Casey Mears Chevrolet 177.300 27.736 + 0.342 14. Kyle Busch Toyota 177.039 27.777 + 0.383 15. David Ragan Ford 177.007 27.782 + 0.388 16. Martin Truex Jr Chevrolet 176.911 27.797 + 0.403 17. Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 176.892 27.800 + 0.406 18. Tony Stewart Chevrolet 176.594 27.847 + 0.453 19. Elliott Sadler Dodge 176.555 27.853 + 0.459 20. Jamie McMurray Ford 176.423 27.874 + 0.480 21. David Reutimann Toyota 176.347 27.886 + 0.492 22. Max Papis Toyota 176.328 27.889 + 0.495 23. Denny Hamlin Toyota 176.264 27.899 + 0.505 24. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 176.138 27.919 + 0.525 25. Juan Montoya Chevrolet 176.050 27.933 + 0.539 26. Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 175.980 27.944 + 0.550 27. Bobby Labonte Ford 175.968 27.946 + 0.552 28. Robby Gordon Toyota 175.735 27.983 + 0.589 29. Regan Smith Chevrolet 175.629 28.000 + 0.606 30. David Gilliland Chevrolet 175.441 28.030 + 0.636 31. Brad Keselowski Chevrolet 175.434 28.031 + 0.637 32. Joe Nemechek Toyota 175.266 28.058 + 0.664 33. Dave Blaney Toyota 175.247 28.061 + 0.667 34. David Stremme Dodge 175.053 28.092 + 0.698 35. Brian Vickers Toyota 174.860 28.123 + 0.729 36. Michael Waltrip Toyota 174.773 28.137 + 0.743 37. Scott Riggs Toyota 174.724 28.145 + 0.751 38. A.J. Allmendinger Dodge 174.525 28.177 + 0.783 39. Tony Raines Chevrolet 173.847 28.287 + 0.893 40. Paul Menard Ford 173.088 28.411 + 1.017 41. Reed Sorenson Dodge 172.058 28.581 + 1.187 42. Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet - - - 43. Sterling Marlin Dodge 174.402 28.197 + 0.803 44. Jeremy Mayfield Toyota 174.229 28.225 + 0.831 45. Scott Speed Toyota 174.013 28.260 + 0.866 
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