Kurt Busch returned to his hometown track in style Friday, winning the pole for Sunday’s Kobalt 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Busch, who grew up in Las Vegas and raced at a short track next to the 1.5-mile speedway, had a track-record lap of 196.378 mph in the first round of qualifying (one of 14 speeds that exceeded the previous mark of 194.678, set by Jeff Gordon a year ago). He didn’t go quite that fast in the final round (196.328), but it was enough.
“Vegas is different,” said Busch. “Every time I come out here, it reminds me of all the people that helped (brother and fellow NASCAR driver) Kyle and I. It’s fun to come back and reminisce. But ultimately you have to strap on the helmet and focus on the task at hand.”
Busch also started on the pole last week at Atlanta, but could only manage a fourth-place finish.
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“We’ll focus on our long-run speed now,” said Busch. “Atlanta didn’t go as planned with our long-run speed.”
Joey Logano starts on the outside of the front row for a third consecutive time at Las Vegas.
“I felt like our car was pretty close,” said Logano. “I always talk about guts-to-brain ratio, and this track you’ve got to have guts and put your foot on the throttle.”
The field will include 39 (of a possible 40) cars. Three “open” teams – Ryan Blaney (14th), Cole Whitt (36th) and Josh Wise (39th) – will join the 36 charter teams on the grid.
Carl Edwards hit the wall during his qualifying run and will have to start at the rear of the field in a backup car.
▪ Chip Ganassi Racing is using a solar-powered generator unit for Brennan Poole’s No. 48 Chevy during practice and qualifying for Saturday’s Xfinity race. The generator will help cool the engine after practice and qualifying and also heat the oil to optimum operating temperatures. The unit is made by DC Solar.
▪ A Goodyear tire test is scheduled for next Wednesday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Martin Truex Jr., Austin Dillon, Brian Scott and Jamie McMurray will participated. The test is closed to the public.