Kahne Leads Assault On Kansas Qualifying Record Book
By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
KANSAS CITY, Kan. –Hendrick Motorsports’ Kasey Kahne became the first pole winner on the repaved, reconfigured Kansas Speedway oval Friday when he logged a record-blitzing lap at 191.360 mph.
The old qualifying record was set by Matt Kenseth in 2005. It was 180.856 mph.
“I went into (Turn) 3, and felt like I could go wide open,” Kahne said. “So I went back to wide open, and then I started just chattering a little bit. So, I eased off the throttle and back down. I definitely gave up a little time doing that. So far so good though.”
Every driver who attempted a qualifying run on Friday bettered that speed. Including the three drivers whose speed was not fast enough to qualify for the race.
Qualifying second and third for Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 Sprint Cup race were Michael Waltrip Racing’s Mark Martin (191.238) and Clint Bowyer (191.130).
Kyle Busch and Aric Almirola were fourth and fifth respectively.
Following the April race at Kansas, the 1.5-mile oval’s surface was ripped up. Laid down in its place was a smooth layer of asphalt. In addition, the banking of the track was raised from 15 degrees in the corners to up to 20 degrees.
Speeds soared during two days of testing on Wednesday and Thursday and then again for practice and qualifying on Friday.
Rounding out the top 10 on the starting grid will be Ryan Newman, Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick.
Kahne (fifth in the standings) has the opportunity to make a dent in his 35-point deficit to Keselowski, who qualified 25th. The same can be said of fourth-place Bowyer, who trails Keselowski by 28 points.
“I think it can be a pretty big (opportunity),” Kahne said. “I think those guys (Keselowski and crew chief Paul Wolfe) will really figure out how to go fast in race trim. That’s what they’ve done all season long. They haven’t qualified great, really, this whole year, but they know how to race, and with strategy they’ll figure out how to get to the front if they’re fast enough to stay up there.
“You know you’ll see the No. 2 car at some point. They’ve shown that all season long. But for ourselves, we have a great starting spot, a great pit stall — a lot of things from today will help us throughout the entire race, not just the start of the race. So, yeah, I feel really good about where we’re at, and if we can capitalize and make the right decisions and get the right balance in the car, we can gain some points.”No Comment