FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Kurt Busch is on the pole for the second time in four races since his reinstatement from a suspension for allegedly assaulting his former girlfriend.
Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kevin Harvick is right there again as well.
Busch took the top qualifying spot for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race in Texas on Friday, edging past the defending series champion late in the final round to set up the same 1-2 start they had in Fontana, California, three weeks ago.
The Duck Commander 500 is Saturday night on the high-banked 1 1/2-mile track. It’s the first night race of the season.
“A pole’s a pole,” Busch said after taking the top spot for the 18th time in 511 career races and the first time in Texas. “We now have to settle in to 500 miles and to be there at the end of the race tomorrow night.”
Busch turned a lap of 193.847 mph in his No. 41 Chevrolet a few moments after Harvick had taken the lead at 193.722. Brad Keselowski took the inside of the second row in the final seconds of qualifying at 193.195. Kasey Kahne (192.933) was fourth.
The 36-year-old Busch finished third after starting up front in Fontana, a week after making his season debut in the fourth race by qualifying eighth and finishing fifth in Phoenix.
Busch missed the first three races after he was suspended two days before the season-opening Daytona 500 when a Delaware judge ruled he likely assaulted Patricia Driscoll in his motorhome in September at Dover International Speedway.
Last month, the Delaware attorney general declined to charge Busch for the incident, and Busch was quickly reinstated.
Harvick won the last race that Busch missed in Las Vegas, and was on top again in Phoenix the week when his teammate returned.
He’s got a couple of wins, so we’ve still got our work cut out for us to keep up with his pace,” Busch said. “But in short runs, qualifying sessions and things like that, it’s great to push each other. And it’s an exciting time to try to continue to make Stewart-Haas stronger.”
It’s the fourth time in seven races this season that Harvick has been on the front row — but the first time in Texas. He won from the pole in his No. 4 Chevrolet at Phoenix.
“I’m just really proud of everyone at Stewart-Haas Racing, on the 41 team for getting a pole and my team for doing a solid job every week,” said Harvick, the series points leader. “I’m really excited for tomorrow.”
For Keselowski, the No. 3 starting spot is a season high. He won in Fontana after qualifying eighth.
“You can always be a little bit better, but the 4 and the 41 have been fast week in and week out and they’re fast here again,” Keselowski said.
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