BRISTOL, Tenn. (AP) — Matt Kenseth will try for his first win since 2013 when he starts from the pole at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Kenseth led a strong showing from Joe Gibbs Racing on Friday when he turned a lap at 128.632 mph to grab the top starting spot.
But he wasn’t sure how his pole-run would help him Sunday. Kenseth is winless in 51 races since New Hampshire in September 2013, but came close last month at California until a late debris caution ruined his day.
“Finishing up front is the most important part,” Kenseth said after qualifying. “The guy who’s on the pole always says it’s a big deal for Sunday. Qualifying and racing is different, I think everywhere. Certainly getting one lap here is a lot different than being good for 500 laps.”
It was Kenseth’s first pole of the season and 13th of his career.
Brad Keselowski qualified second at 128.442 in a Team Penske Ford.
He was followed by Carl Edwards as JGR drivers took two of the top three spots, and three of the top five when Denny Hamlin qualified behind Kevin Harvick. David Ragan, the interim driver for injured Kyle Busch in the fourth JGR Toyota, qualified 11th.
Edwards said he knew the JGR cars were good because his balance was off “and we still ran really well.
“We have a very fast car and it’s going to be a fun race.”
Kenseth has won the August race at Bristol three times in his career, but has never won on the .533-mile concrete bullring in the spring.
Joey Logano qualified sixth to put both Penske cars in the first three rows.
Kurt Busch was seventh to join Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Harvick as the highest-qualifying Chevrolets. He was followed by Kasey Kahne, the highest qualifying Hendrick Motorsports driver.
Paul Menard from Richard Childress Racing and Jamie McMurray from Chip Ganassi Racing rounded out the top 10.
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