First Daytona Pole for Kenseth

Matt Kenseth

This is Kenseth's first pole in 26 races at Daytona International Speedway. (Photo: Getty Images)

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Daytona 500 winner Matt Kenseth scored his initial Daytona International Speedway pole on Friday when he took the top spot for the Coke Zero 400.

Kenseth’s lap of 192.386 mph around the 2.5-mile track earned the Roush Fenway Racing driver his eighth career Sprint Cup Series pole. His last came in November of last season at Phoenix International Raceway.

Kenseth became the 13th different driver to win a pole in the first 18 races of the season. His previous best start at Daytona was third in July of 2007.

“I’ve never won a superspeedway pole,” said Kenseth. “Certainly you know you didn’t have a lot to do with the outcome compared to all the other race tracks, but it’s great to be on the pole. It puts us in the shootout for next year, which, to me, until they changed the format four or five years ago, that was always a big deal. It got to be October and I was always nervous I wasn’t gonna be in it because I haven’t won very many poles throughout my career, so it’s nice to have that pole and know you’re in the shootout for next year.

“Starting that thing from the front, I think that first pit stall is always a little bit of an advantage. Hopefully, you can get out front and manage your temperatures a little bit and hopefully get a bonus point or two for leading some laps.”

Tony Stewart was to have started outside Kenseth in the number two starting position. But his car was found to have an illegal cooling hose in post qualifying inspection and Stewart’s time was disallowed. It was the same violation that NASCAR found with Austin Dillon’s Nationwide Series car after he set fast time only to have the pole stripped because of the infraction.

Stewart’s teammate Ryan Newman will move up to the front row with Kasey Kahne, Greg Biffle and Jeff Gordon the top five.

Bill Elliott, driving for Turner Motorsports as the team makes its Sprint Cup Series debut, was next.

Casey Mears, AJ Allmendinger, Brad Keselowski and Marcos Ambrose rounded out the top 10.

Robert Richardson Jr. failed to qualify for Saturday night’s race.

Motor Racing Network - "The Voice of NASCAR" - will have live coverage of Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola starting at 6:30 p.m. (ET). The 160-lap event will be streamed live online at www.motorracingnetwork.com.

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