Kenseth On Pole at Richmond
Matt Kenseth, who was slammed with penalties by NASCAR this week, responded by winning the pole Friday for this weekend’s Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway.
With a track-record run at 130.334 mph (20.716 seconds), Kenseth edged Brian Vickers (130.303 mph), subbing for injured Denny Hamlin for the third straight week, by .005 seconds.
Kenseth will lead the field to green for Saturday night’s Toyota Owners 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the .75-mile track.
Jeff Gordon (130.252 mph) qualified third, followed by Kasey Kahne (130.183 mph) and Clint Bowyer (130.158 mph), as the top five drivers broke Vickers’ 2004 track record of 129.983 mph (20.772 seconds).
Kahne, currently second in the Cup standings, will start 22 positions ahead of Jimmie Johnson, who leads Kahne by 37 points. Brad Keselowski, third in the standings and 38 points back, qualified 23rd. Kyle Busch, winner of the last four spring races at Richmond, starts eighth.
For Kenseth, and for his sponsors, the pole was a welcome bright spot at the end of a trying week.
“It feels great,” Kenseth said. “It’s a great race track. I felt like we were off a little in practice today, and (crew chief) Jason Ratcliff and that whole group there did the things they do for me every week and just made great adjustments.
“I thought we hit it pretty good there in that lap, had great speed. Thanks to Dollar General, Husky, home Depot (Kenseth’s sponsors) for sticking with us through all this stuff this week. We’ll get through this… glad to be on the pole, and looking forward to tomorrow night.”
After wrecking during qualifying at Kansas last week and starting from the rear of the field in a backup car, Gordon thought initially that the pole at Richmond might be an appropriate reward for his issues, but he conceded the honor to Kenseth.
“I was thinking how much I deserved to get the pole after starting 43rd last week, but after his week, maybe he deserved it a little bit more,” Gordon quipped.No Comment