Kenseth Steps Out Of Character, Wins Pole
Matt Kenseth set a track record en route to winning the pole for Saturday’s Sprint Cup Series race at Darlington Raceway on Friday.
Kenseth turned a lap at 179.514 mph in the session.
“Whenever you run that fast it’s the car,” Kenseth said. “You can only go as fast as the car will carry you and Drew (Blickensderfer, his crew chief) and Chip (Bolin, his engineer) and all these guys on the DeWalt team did a great job of giving me a fast car today, so I’m really looking forward to tomorrow night.”
The pole was the first of the year for Kenseth and just the fourth in a career that began full time back in 2000.
That got a chuckle out of Ryan Newman, who is one of the best qualifiers in the game.
Told that Newman made a bit of fun about Kenseth winning the pole in record fashion, Kenseth said, “Yeah, with how many poles he has – I think he has the most poles for an active driver, maybe not – but, anyway, that record is definitely in jeopardy with us winning this pole. We’re catching him. I think another 40 or so and we’ll be caught up to him.
Kenseth was fast all day in practice, but, he said, “I didn’t think we’d have a serious shot at the pole, but our car was driving really good and, actually, for once when it quit raining I was glad that we got to qualify today.”
Rain in the afternoon cancelled Nationwide Series qualifying and greened-up the track for the Cup cars.
Jeff Gordon will start Saturday’s Southern 500 on the outside of the front row after recording a qualifying lap of 178.861.
That was a heck of a lap, man,” Gordon said. “But I tell you, Matt (Kenseth) put down an awesome lap.”
Rounding out the top five on the starting grid are Ryan Newman, Sam Hornish Jr. and Joey Logano.
Three-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson will start near the back of the field after crashing before recording an official lap in qualifying.
Qualifying results for Saturday’s Southern 500 Sprint Cup race at Darlington Raceway:
- Matt Kenseth, No. 17 Ford
- Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Chevrolet
- Ryan Newman, No. 39 Chevrolet
- Sam Hornish Jr., No. 77 Dodge
- Joey Logano, No. 20 Toyota
- Jeff Burton, No. 31 Chevrolet
- Kasey Kahne, No. 9 Dodge
- Kurt Busch, No. 2 Dodge
- Carl Edwards, No. 99 Ford
- Marcos Ambrose, No. 47 Toyota
- Greg Biffle, No. 16 Ford
- Mark Martin, No. 5 Chevrolet
- Casey Mears, No. 07 Chevrolet
- Kyle Busch, No. 18 Toyota
- David Ragan, No. 6 Ford
- Martin Truex, No. 1 Chevrolet
- Clint Bowyer, No. 33 Chevrolet
- Tony Stewart, No. 14 Chevrolet
- Elliott Sadler, No. 19 Dodge
- Jamie McMurray, No. 26 Ford
- David Reutimann, No. 00 Toyota
- Max Papis, No. 13 Toyota
- Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Toyota
- Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Chevrolet
- Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Chevrolet
- Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 Chevrolet
- Bobby Labonte, No. 96 Ford
- Robby Gordon, No. 7 Toyota
- Regan Smith, No. 78 Chevrolet
- David Gilliland, No. 71 Chevrolet
- Brad Keselowski, No. 25 Chevrolet
- Joe Nemechek, No. 32 Toyota
- Dave Blaney, No. 66 Toyota
- David Stremme, No. 12 Dodge
- Brian Vickers, No. 83 Toyota
- Michael Waltrip, No. 55 Toyota
- Scott Riggs, No. 36 Toyota
- A.J. Allmendinger, No. 44 Dodge
- Sterling Marlin, No. 09 Dodge
- Jeremy Mayfield, No. 41 Toyota
- Scott Speed, No. 83 Toyota
- Tony Raines, No. 34 Chevrolet
- Paul Menard, No. 98 Ford
- Reed Sorenson, No. 43
- Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Chevrolet