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Kenseth Leads Ford Charge In Vegas Qualifying

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Friday, March 4 2011

Matt Kenseth rolled to the pole at Las Vegas on Friday. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

It’s true. That was Matt Kenseth leading a parade of Ford drivers to high qualifying spots on Friday afternoon as he won the pole for Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Winning a pole is a rarity for Kenseth. The pole was the first for the Roush Fenway Racing driver since he was fastest qualifier at Darlington in May of 2009.

It is just his fifth pole ever in Sprint Cup.

“It feels great,” he said. “Qualifying is not my strong suit but I knew we had a really fast car today when we did our last qualifying run. Honestly this is the most nervous as I have been before qualifying in probably five years at least because I knew we had a shot at the pole and I knew last week we really messed up. I didn’t want to mess up a fast car today, so I was really happy with that.”

If Kenseth could win from the pole on Sunday, it would give him his first trip to Victory Lane since he won at Auto Club Speedway in California in February of 2009.

“Five poles in 12 years, that is a little better than I thought,” he said. “It is good to be on pole and I look forward to the race on Sunday. We worked really hard on race practice today and had a lot of speed and in qualifying trim we obviously had a lot of speed. This new qualifying format is kind of nerve racking if you are the fastest car in practice because you are back there watching these guys and you start to feel like you don’t want to mess this up. It feels great to get on the pole and we don’t get them very often so it feels great to get one.”

Kenseth won the pole with a lap at 188.884 mph.

Matt Kenseth, left, won the pole for Sunday's Sprint Cup race in Las Vegas. Clint Bowyer, right, will start 28th. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images for NASCAR)

After Kenseth were three more Fords – those of Marcos Ambrose, Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle.

“That lap was fast,” Edwards said. “I couldn’t tell exactly how fast it was while I was out there because we picked up so much. Right now we are seeing speeds that no one could touch in practice. I didn’t really know what it was going to do.”

Biffle said, “I feel bad because my car had more speed than that and I missed it just a hair. That is why we have qualifying and the race too.”

Kyle Busch kept Ford from claiming the top five spots for the Kobalt Tools 400 as he was fifth in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

Ambrose, driving for Richard Petty Motorsports, had a fast lap of 188.166 mph.

As Ambrose stood talking to reporters, Edwards gave a (presumably) good-natured bump to him with his car.

“I am pretty stubborn, stupid and strong and so you can hit me at 30 mph and it doesn’t matter,” Ambrose said. “It is just a great day for us. I have been second a few times now in my cup career in qualifying so I have been bumped out several times and it never feels any nicer. I am really pleased today.

“Matt did a great lap and you can’t complain when someone beats you on speed. It isn’t like he lucked into it. He had the fastest car in practice and he delivered when it counted. No bad feelings today and I am just happy for Richard Petty Motorsports who went through a lot at the end of last year. To be strong this early with A.J. (Allmendinger) running top three in points it is just a good feeling over there looking forward to hopefully keeping this run going.

Qualifying sixth was Joey Logano in a JGR Toyota.

Seventh was A.J. Allmendinger, Ambrose’s teammate.

Ryan Newman was the top Chevrolet driver in qualifying. He was eighth.

Rounding out the top 10 were Martin Truex Jr. and Mark Martin.

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Friday, March 4 2011
2 Comments

2 Comments »

  • nascaroots says:

    can you hear the chevys whine

  • Terry says:

    I said it this winter….the star of the circuit this year would be NOT a driver but the FR9…..
    So far I a smarter than Tony Kornhozer and Wellconned combined.
    FORD could …that is COULD….NOT would…place 3 out of top 5 on a regular basis for the first half of the year if RCR-Hendrick doesn’t torque some heads tighter quick.
    By then with new points system in place….the FR9 could wrench away the year end trophy from GM-JJ-HMS….
    Dodge and Toyota do not not have the power to gas mileage ratio to win all year. They do not do well on long runs. They need restarts.
    FAST COOL LONG…..FORD finally got it right.