Kyle Busch blazes to pole for Crown Royal 400 at The Brickyard
Reid Spencer NASCAR Wire Service SPEEDWAY, Ind. -- A sweep at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is nothing new to Kyle Busch. But this year, he started early. With a lap at 184.634 mph (48.745 seconds) in the final round of Saturday's knockout qualifyi...
NASCAR Wire Service
SPEEDWAY, Ind. - A sweep at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is nothing new to Kyle Busch.
But this year, he started early.
With a lap at 184.634 mph (48.745 seconds) in the final round of Saturday’s knockout qualifying, Busch claimed the pole position for Sunday’s Crown Royal 400 (2 p.m. on NBCSN).
Earlier in the day, the driver who swept both the NASCAR Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series races at Indy last year earned the top starting spot for Saturday afternoon’s Lilly Diabetes 250 XFINITY race.
But the Sprint Cup pole that completed the Saturday sweep was special, because it was the first for Busch at the vaunted Brickyard.
“I haven’t been great at qualifying here, but the guys gave me a great piece this time around, and I’m real pumped about that,” said Busch, who claimed his second Coors Light Pole Award of the season and the 19th of his career. “We’re starting first in both of these (races), and hopefully we can end that way.
“It means a lot (to win the pole). It’s definitely pretty special to be running the way that we’re running and to have the success that we’ve had here the last couple of years at Indy, and I’d love nothing more than to try to win here again.”
Busch’s No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota was .023 seconds faster than the No. 19 of teammate Carl Edwards (184.547 mph).
“I was happy with my lap,” Edwards said. “I was surprised Kyle got me. That was a good lap for him - I mean, that was a good lap that he ran because I felt like my lap was pretty good - but, yeah, it’s frustrating right now to be second because it’s so close, and the pole position is obviously huge here.
“But by tomorrow, the race gets started and I think I’ll be pretty happy with that starting spot, so just good job by all my guys.”
Making his last appearance at Indy as a Sprint Cup Series driver, Tony Stewart earned the third starting spot with a lap at 184.328 mph and knew exactly where he had lost critical speed.
“I just wish I could do lap three (final round) one more time and not clip the apron in (Turn) 4,” Stewart said. “I think we could have been on the pole.”
Denny Hamlin qualified fourth, giving JGR three of the top four spots. Brad Keselowski in fifth has the top Ford. Ryan Newman, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson will start from positions six through 10, respectively.
The time trials were a disappointment for the Hendrick Motorsports drivers, who failed to place a car in the top 12.
Jimmie Johnson ran the fastest lap of the day in the first of three rounds, touring the 2.5-mile speedway in 48.435 seconds (185.816 mph). But the six-time series champion failed to advance beyond the second round, losing the 12th and final position to Kurt Busch by .008 seconds.
Johnson will start 13th, Chase Elliott 14th and Jeff Gordon, subbing for ailing Dale Earnhardt Jr., claimed the 21st spot on the grid.
“I felt really comfortable right there,” said Gordon, who was 15th fastest in the first round. “I feel like today I’m much calmer than I was yesterday (in practice). Usually, my heart is beating more for qualifying than it is for practice, but that wasn’t the case.
“So, today I feel more relaxed and comfortable in the car. I hope to feel the same way tomorrow. Tomorrow’s challenge is going to be being around traffic, and also trying to get the balance of the car right and do that when you're by yourself as well as when you're around other cars.”
Josh Wise failed to make the 40-car field.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Qualifying
Crown Royal presents the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Saturday, July 23
1. (18) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 184.634 mph.
2. (19) Carl Edwards, Toyota, 184.547 mph.
3. (14) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 184.328 mph.
4. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 184.079 mph.
5. (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 183.591 mph.
6. (31) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 183.202 mph.
7. (4) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 182.852 mph.
8. (78) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 182.500 mph.
9. (1) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 182.463 mph.
10. (42) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 182.386 mph.
11. (41) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 182.349 mph.
12. (3) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 182.286 mph.
13. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 183.554 mph.
14. (22) Joey Logano, Ford, 183.273 mph.
15. (24) Chase Elliott #, Chevrolet, 183.068 mph.
16. (17) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 183.020 mph.
17. (21) Ryan Blaney #, Ford, 182.823 mph.
18. (20) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 182.223 mph.
19. (16) Greg Biffle, Ford, 182.057 mph.
20. (6) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 181.980 mph.
21. (88) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 181.851 mph.
22. (34) Chris Buescher #, Ford, 181.265 mph.
23. (27) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 181.196 mph.
24. (10) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 180.058 mph.
25. (47) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 183.169 mph.
26. (5) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 183.109 mph.
27. (95) Michael McDowell, Chevrolet, 182.819 mph.
28. (23) David Ragan, Toyota, 182.400 mph.
29. (43) Aric Almirola, Ford, 182.219 mph.
30. (83) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 182.083 mph.
31. (15) Clint Bowyer, Chevrolet, 181.932 mph.
32. (44) Brian Scott #, Ford, 181.690 mph.
33. (38) Landon Cassill, Ford, 181.342 mph.
34. (13) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 180.792 mph.
35. (98) Cole Whitt, Chevrolet, 179.651 mph.
36. (93) Ryan Ellis(i), Toyota, 179.019 mph.
37. (7) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 178.356 mph.
38. (46) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 177.978 mph.
39. (55) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 176.180 mph.
40. (32) Patrick Carpentier, Ford, 174.027 mph.
1 driver failed to qualify.
41. (30) Josh Wise, Chevrolet, 170.658 mph.