Kurt Busch claims pole for Folds Of Honor QuikTrip 500 During Active Pest Control Qualifying Day
It was going to be a Busch brothers front row for the Folds of Honor QuickTrip 500 — until top qualifier Kyle Busch's car failed inspection Friday.
That bumped the No. 18 Toyota to the back of the field and gave older brother Kurt Busch the pole position for Sunday's Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
"It's an awesome run that the car had in it," Kurt Busch said. "The team did a good job to dial it in for the three rounds. I was just trying to make sure I didn't slip a tire any extra. It's really easy to overdrive Atlanta Motor Speedway. The track challenges the driver, the car and the tires. It's a fun place to come and try to lay down a lap."
Kyle Busch was the quickest in the final round of qualifying with a top speed of 191.668 mph. Kurt Busch was just off that pace at 191.582, but moved up after inspection and will start in the No. 1 spot for the first time at Atlanta.
"Overall with the way the developments came up from tech inspection this shows the amount of enforcement that NASCAR is ready to apply to their technical procedures on what a car has to do to comply to all specs," Kurt Busch said.
Kurt Busch was pleased with his team's effort even before word of the lineup shuffle came up.
"When we go through Daytona, and that's 10 days of trying to find a little bit of speed here and there, and then boom, today you've got to do everything in 80 minutes," Kurt Busch said after qualifying on the front row. "So it's great to see our team in a nice rhythm already."
Both Busches missed last year's race at Atlanta.
At the front
Jamie McMurray (190.130), now second, Trevor Bayne (189.987) and Ryan Newman (189.961) round out the two front rows.
Bayne made a rare appearance in the media center and didn't miss a chance to get a few laughs from the assembled group.
"It's been a while," Bayne said with a smile. "And it probably wasn't for anything performance related."
Bayne's previous best start was 29th, in 2015. The last time he started as high as fourth was at Talladega on Oct. 23, 2011 (fourth-place start).
"That's a pretty big improvement," Bayne said. "We look to hang on to that."
Bayne freely admitted last year was tough.
"Last season wasn't a reflection of work ethic at all," Bayne said. "This season we're really looking forward to this low-downforce package. We feel like our best races were at the low-downforce tracks, Kentucky and Darlington. So everybody that's wondering what's going on at Roush Fenway Racing, a lot of hard work."
Still, even he was surprised by the lap they laid down out of the gate.
"I felt like in practice we had maybe a top-15 car," Bayne said. "I definitely didn't see second on that first run out there.
"Now with our practice tomorrow, we have to make use of our time and make sure our car will last."
Bayne finished answering questions and drew one more chuckle when he quipped, "Hope to see you all again soon."
Dawsonville's Chase Elliott, who won the Daytona pole last week, missed the cut for the second round of qualifying by .2 of a second.
"It was close," Elliott said. "We needed to be a little bit faster than that to contend for the top-12 anyway. So we're just off a little bit from what we were hoping for, but the good news is it's a long race on Sunday and we have another day of practice tomorrow. So we'll try to get things a little better."
Elliott will start 24th after Kyle Busch's pole-winning car failed inspection.
"I think the biggest thing for the race is going to be drive off," Elliott said. "Hoping you can stand back in the throttle when you need to for this long race on this wore out race track. Right there I just didn't do a very good job getting up to speed, didn't do a very good job running the top.
"I think through (Turns) 1 and 2 there is a lot of speed up there. I had been kind of committed to the bottom all day. Hopefully, Sunday that will be the place to be."
AMS Thursday Thunder Alumni show
The top three fastest times in Friday's second Camping World Truck Series practice were posted by AMS Thursday Thunder alumni. John Wes Townley, a Watkinsville, Georgia native, set the pace at 178.224 mph, followed closely by Daniel Hemric (177.795) and William Byron (177.368).
Grant Enfinger, another AMS Thursday Thunder alumnus, wheeled the fastest practice laps in both the first and third sessions for the Camping World Truck Series.
In total, there are 16 drivers competing this weekend who at one time raced in Atlanta Motor Speedway's Legends racing program.
Jonesin' for a win:
Erik Jones posted the top one or two fastest laps in all three XFINITY Series practices Friday, including his one and only lap in final practice, when he hit a top speed of 181.467 mph.
Day 2 of the 2016 Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Weekend kicks off at 8:35 a.m. Saturday with XFINITY Series qualifying, followed immediately by Camping World Truck Series qualifying at 10 a.m. The final Sprint Cup series practice hits the track at 11:30 a.m. before the only same-day doubleheader on the NASCAR schedule begins with the Heads Up Georgia 250 and finishes off with the Great Clips 200.