Matt Kenseth is back on the pole at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Four months after qualifying first for the Coca-Cola 600, Kenseth did it again Thursday for Saturday’s Bank of America 500.
Kenseth’s fast lap of 194.532 mph was easily the best of the qualifying session’s final round. Overall, it’s his fourth pole of the season and he’ll start on the front row with Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch, who had a speed of 193.154 mph. Joey Logano starts third and Greg Biffle fourth.
“We worked on qualifying all day,” said Kenseth, who finished fourth in the 600. “Still, when they get my car to drive just about perfect like they did today, every once in a while I’m not going to mess it up. Like in the spring, we had a ton of speed.”
Kenseth and Busch are part of a JGR team that has rolled through much of the second half of the season, but is now chasing Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick as the second round of the Chase begins with the Charlotte race. Two other JGR drivers qualified inside the top 12 – Denny Hamlin starts fifth and Carl Edwards eighth.
Harvick, who will start 11th, has consistently had the fastest car over the Chase’s first three races, including winning in dominant style last week at Dover (Del.) International Speedway.
“I’d like for us to put it together like the (Harvick) bunch did last week,” said Busch. “They proved they’re a championship contender. They put it to everybody.”
Most of the top 12 starters for Saturday’s race are included in the Chase, with the exception of Greg Biffle (who will start fourth), Jimmie Johnson (seventh) and Aric Almirola (ninth).
Biffle has fared well at Charlotte, finishing second in May.
“We’ve been running really good here lately and we kind of brought the same setup back that we had here (for the 600),” said Biffle. “I felt like I had a faster car than fourth. That’s disappointing. I just wanted to be on the front row and we were really close.
“We’re going to try some stuff that we did here in May and then a few extra little things and see if we can build on what we had.”