Very few people doubt that Kyle Busch is the hottest driver in NASCAR right now. After missing the first 11 races of the season after injuries suffered in a crash in the season opening Xfinity Series race at Daytona, Busch has won four of the last five races, and the last three in a row. Friday Busch showed that he isn’t slowing down, putting his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota on the pole for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Windows 10 400 at Pocono Raceway.
“I told you I had a fast car I just wasn’t sure we could get the balance of it right,” Busch said. “There right at the end that last run was the best it’s been all day.”
Busch put down a lap of 50.444 seconds, 178.416 mph late in the final round of three to score his first pole of the season, and his second at Pocono the last coming in June of 2010 and the 17th of his career. Busch put down his lap with less than a minute to go; only Jeff Gordon and Austin Dillon followed and neither was able to come close to Busch’s pole winning speed. Kevin Harvick who had gone out early in the final around was the only driver to come came close; but his lap of 178.168 gave him the pole for only a few moments until Busch grabbed the top spot. Joey Logano will roll off third, Dillon snagged fourth.
“I knew it had some speed,” Busch said. “We just had to be able to fine-tune it and put it in the right perspective for these three corners of this race track. And, that was pretty good right there. So, not too shabby starting spot for us Sunday. I like to see the clean air upfront and we’ll hopefully race them from there.”
Tony Stewart led the first round with a lap of 177.298, but despite advancing to the final round, could only manage a fifth place starting spot. Still, the top five starting spot is his second in a row after a season of struggle for the three-time champion as he looks to visit victory lane for the first time this year.
“Well, I don’t know that just two weeks in a row of qualifying justifies that discussion,” Stewart said. “I mean we didn’t finish very good last week at Indy (Stewart finished 28th). I would say we will reserve judgment on that for a couple more weeks.”
Kyle’s older brother Kurt, who led the final practice earlier Friday, will start sixth, Matt Kenseth seventh, Carl Edwards who won the last two consecutive poles will start eighth with Brad Keselowski starting ninth and Jeff Gordon in his final start at Pocono will start 10th.
Harvick led the second round with a lap of 177.637. The front row start is his 13th top-10 start of 2015 and his ninth in 30 starts at Pocono Raceway.
“I feel like I probably gave up a little bit in Turn 1,” Harvick said. “I got a little bit tight in the center of that corner, but all-in-all it was a good lap and I’m glad we ran our fastest speed in the last round. That is what you have to do.”
Other notables include the winner here in June Martin Truex Jr. who just missed the final round and will start 13th Sunday. Defending race winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start 15th. The spotlight Friday at least was on Busch and his amazing run of late. Busch was asked that given his recent luck, if he had purchased a Pennsylvania Power Ball lottery ticket.
“No, that’s next. You’re right,” Busch said. “I certainly need to look into that for sure. Everything is just – man, I don’t know how to explain it. I really don’t. Maybe that’s what it was – the last couple of years I did buy Power Ball tickets and now I’m not. I’ll keep my luck to the race track, I don’t need to have good luck to win the lottery. I feel like I already have with the job I’ve got.”
With 43 entries, everyone who ran qualifying times will start Sunday. The full qualifying results can be found here. The full lineup for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Windows 10 400 can be found here. The field will get the green flag just past 1:30 p.m. ET Sunday with live coverage on the NBC Sports Network.