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Kasey Kahne Captures First Pole For Hendrick

| , RacinToday.com Friday, March 9 2012

Kasey Kahne was a big winner in Las Vegas on Friday. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Erik J. Perel)

Kasey Kahne, in his third event since joining Hendrick Motorsports, won the pole for Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 400 Sprint Cup series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Friday with a lap at 190.456 mph.

The pole was his first since Atlanta Motor Speedway last fall and the 23rd of his career. Kahne’s time and speed in his Chevrolet set the track record.

“It was a good lap,” Kahne said. “We carried a lot of speed to the line in the Farmers Insurance Chevy. I got through (Turns) 1 and 2 really well. When I got to (Turn) 3, I was a little bit tight and just had a little more wheel than what I would have liked coming off of (Turn) 4 and back to the line. So I knew I was a little on the tight side. But I still felt like it was a good run and the Hendrick engine runs so well it pulls you there.

“That was a good lap. It was faster in practice today. We did a lot of race trim stuff and then we made a couple of runs right at the end. And I was a little tight right there, actually. I didn’t feel perfect, but I was on the gas and these Hendrick engines run so well. I felt good about it but it definitely wasn’t a perfect lap.”

In his first two races of the season, at Daytona and Phoenix, Kahne qualified 20th and 10th respectively.

Qualifying second fastest was Kyle Busch in a Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Busch’s speed was 190.040 mph.

Asked if the run made him feel good about the weekend, Busch, a Las Vegas native, said, “It would be a whole lot better if I was about six one-hundredths faster then we’d be on the pole. That would certainly feel good. I’ve sat on a couple poles here before in years past. Have had I think three or four front row starts here so qualifying has been a good strong suit for us. We’d like to back up 2009 and be able to get another win here.

“Certainly, there’s added pressure on just from myself or feeling like you really want to run well here in front of the hometown crowd and being able to go out there and be successful here. This is one of those places that you kind of stack up on the win list where you want to be able to win here like a Coke 600 or an All-Star race or something like that. Certainly, probably would be considered my third biggest win underneath the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400.”

Third fastest was Kevin Harvick of Richard Childress Racing while Kahne’s teammate, Dale Earnhardt Jr., was fourth.

Fifth was Clint Bowyer of Michael Waltrip Racing.

“We unloaded fast and I really thought we had a chance at the pole,” Bowyer said. “The car was just a little loose, but we were within a tenth. We’ll start in the top-five and do our best to move up those last five spots during the race and be there at the end.”

Rounding out the top 10 were Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, Joey Logano, Greg Biffle and Martin Truex Jr.

“I’m a little disappointed,” Biffle said. “Maybe I held it out a little too long getting into turn three, but it didn’t seem like it wanted to turn to the bottom. That’s where I lost my time. I curious to look at the lap tracker to see where I was at going across one and two. I think I was pretty good getting to three, but when I started down into three it started chattering and it didn’t want to get to the bottom. I had to slow down a little bit and that hurt me, but we’re still up there pretty good.”

Failing to make the field were Scott Riggs and Robby Gordon.

Also at the track on Friday:

– Juan Pablo Montoya crashed on his very first lap of Cup practice.

“It sucks, it was our first lap,” he said. “It felt really good in (turns) 3 and 4. I went into (Turn) 1 and got a little tight over the bumps. So I got on the gas and it just stepped out on me. I thought, ‘My God’, and I was in the fence. It sucks. Everybody on this Clorox team has been working their butts off. We tested this week and I thought we made a lot of gains and the car looked very promising, but it’s still early in the weekend.”

JPM’s Chip Ganassi Racing team had to haul out the backup car.

– Five-time champion Jimmie Johnson led the first Cup practice of the weekend. The Hendrick Motorsports driver had a lap at 188.140 mph.

Second fastest in the practice was Clint Bowyer of Michael Waltrip Racing. His top lap was at 188.134 mph. Rounding out the top five in the session were Tony Stewart, Marcos Ambrose and Greg Biffle.

– Elliott Sadler led the Nationwide Series practice on Friday. He had a lap at 179.545 mph. Mark Martin was second fastest and defending series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was third. Danica Patrick was 14th fastest.

(This story will be updated shortly)

| , RacinToday.com Friday, March 9 2012
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