Busch Scores First Plate Pole

Kyle Busch

Busch posted a lap of 193.723 mph to lead an all-Joe Gibbs Racing front row. (Photo: Getty Images)


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Check that off the list. Kyle Busch scored his first pole for a NASCAR Sprint Cup restrictor-plate race Friday at Daytona.

Busch will lead the field to the green flag for Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 after qualifying with a lap of 193.723 mph. Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth starts second after a lap of 193.299 mph, giving Toyota the front row.

Busch qualified fourth for the Daytona 500 in February but finished 34th after an engine failure. He started 13th at Talladega but placed 37th after being involved in an accident early in that race.

“I just wish our finishing average was as good as our qualifying average,’’ Busch said after his 13th career pole and third of the season. “These guys have done a really good job on that, helping me be fast on these one laps.’’

Toyota took four of the top five starting spots. After Busch and Kenseth, Clint Bowyer starts third with Michael Waltrip Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr. fifth. Kasey Kahne’s Chevrolet will start fourth.

Paul Menard qualified sixth and is followed by Michael Waltrip, Jimmie Johnson, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Greg Biffle. Daytona 500 pole-sitter Danica Patrick will start 11th.

Kenseth is coming off last weekend’s victory at Kentucky, his series-high fourth of the year and Bowyer admits Kenseth is putting pressure on the field by gaining so many bonus points for the Chase.

“I need to get some,’’ said Bowyer, winless this season. “He’s going to be way ahead of me before things even get interesting. It’s starting to get serious, I’m not going to lie. It’s starting to be enough that you’re paying attention. Still, what are you going to do? Last weekend, I was trying to pass him, I just couldn’t. You’ve got to keep digging, you’ve got to keep trying, you’ve got to keep putting yourself in those situations. What else can you do? Eventually, it will pay off. I’m trying.’’

Defending champion Brad Keselowski qualified 15th but is unsure what his car will be like in the race.

“Trying to ask how somebody’s car is at Daytona is like doing a blindfold taste test or something because you have no idea what you’ve got here until you get racing,’’ he said.’’

Former series champion Terry Labonte, making his third start of the season, starts 39th. Bobby Labonte said Thursday that his older brother had talked to him about purchasing James Finch’s Phoenix Racing team and hoped Terry could find the funding to do it.

Terry Labonte told Motor Racing Network that won’t be happening.

“I’d love to do and let Bobby run it for a year,’’ Terry Labonte said. “If it was easy to find a sponsor James would have one. They were like, “Do you have any leads on a sponsor, maybe you can put something together with this,’ and I don’t. Without a sponsor, I’ve got a shop, I’ve got all kinds of stuff, I don’t need another one.’’

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