Matt Kenseth wins pole for NASCAR All-Star Race
Rain, shmain — through pockets of clouds and periods of torrential rain, NASCAR still managed to squeeze in qualifying on Friday night ahead of Saturday's All-Star Race.
Matt Kenseth will start on the pole for Saturday's All-Star Race (8 p.m., TV: FS1) having posted the fastest qualifying and pit road speed. That he was able to do so without any practice — all but about 15 minutes of Cup Series practice was canceled due to rain — was even more impressive. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will begin second, followed by Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr., respectively.
"This was more about the car and the team," Kenseth said, "than it was about me."
This was Kenseth's second time in a NASCAR Cup Series car this season, following his mid-season comeback to Roush Fenway Racing.
The rest of the field for the All-Star Race will be determined in Saturday's All-Star Open.
But while the start of Charlotte's Speedweeks might not have gone off exactly as planned, there was still plenty of action at the track on Friday. Here are some other notes from Friday at Charlotte Motor Speedway:
Cancellations ... and plenty of them: The weather forecast for Friday was always ominous, but unfortunately for drivers, all that bad weather eventually came to fruition. Sporadic rain showers meant NASCAR had to not only shorten the practice laps for Cup Series drivers, but also cancel several events. Qualifying for the All-Star Open (held Saturday) was canceled, as was Camping World Truck Series qualifying.
The bad news? More rain on the radar for Saturday.
Las Vegas natives on legal gambling: Monday's decision from the U.S. Supreme Court to legalize sports gambling drew interesting comments from the entire sports world, but we didn't hear much from individual local athletes. Enter Kurt and Kyle Busch, two Las Vegas natives with interesting things to say about gambling outside their home city.
"You are asking a Vegas guy that thought sports betting was legal all the time," Kurt Busch said. "I am not much of a bettor. I grew up in that town knowing that they didn’t build those casinos and hotels with their own money. It was built from people gambling and trying to find the edge of whatever game they were playing ... I don’t know what impact it will make or if we will even feel anything different.”
Meanwhile the other Busch brother was more vocal in his support for the ruling.
“It’s fantastic. Hell yeah, I think it’s good. I don’t think there’s a negative to it," Kyle Busch said. "Being from Las Vegas, that’s the mecca for gambling in the country and it’s pretty neat that you have this opportunity for fans to be able to bet on your sport. I think it’ll put more eyeballs on the sport. I think it’ll bring some interest to the sport.
"I’ve always kind of looked at horse racing as you know, you can go out there and bet on horse racing, but why can’t we bet on racing, racing?"
A "friendly" game of basketball: Dating back to the Daytona 500, there has been some ... beef between drivers Bubba Wallace and Denny Hamlin. But on Friday, it seemed their feud had subsided to some extent.
During all the rain cancellations, the two Cup Series drivers were able to play some pickup basketball, along with Chase Elliott and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Considering Hamlin also had issues last season with Elliott, maybe some delays and down time weren't the worst thing, after all.
Cam Newton, Post Malone, and ... Austin Dillon?: Daytona 500 champion Austin Dillon has a bit of a reputation as a true fun-loving guy, as evidenced by his massive party and celebration (and tattoo) after winning the 500 in February.
So it should come as no surprise, then, that Dillon and his friends were a fixture at PNC Music Pavilion on Wednesday night for rapper Post Malone. But Dillon, who is also the reigning Coca-Cola 600 champion, said there was another part of the concert that really caught his attention: hanging out with Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.
"Cam Newton showed up behind me and I was like ‘Holy cow,'" Dillon said. "I kind of fan-boyed over that because I’m a huge Panthers fan. A lot of the wide receiving core and some of the new guys that are on the team were with him, and after that we hung out backstage for a little bit."
Not bad company for a last-minute concert decision.
Jeff Gordon fans, pay attention: Remember that famous rainbow paint scheme that Gordon and the Rainbow Warriors made famous during his prime? Well get ready for it to make a comeback. Hendrick Motorsports announced Friday that Cup Series rookie and Charlotte native William Byron — now the driver of the No. 24 car Gordon made famous — will run that same rainbow paint scheme at Darlington in the fall for NASCAR's throwback theme.