Kyle Busch Wins Martinsville Pole

Kyle Busch

Busch won the pole with a lap of 18.998 seconds, 99.674 mph. (Photo: Getty Images)

MARTINSVILLE, Va. - They couldn’t catch Kyle Busch last weekend in California and they couldn’t do so Friday in Virginia.

Less than a week after winning at Auto Club Speedway, Busch won the pole for Sunday’s STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway. He becomes the sixth different pole winner this season - the first time since 1998 that there have been so many different pole winners to open the year.

“It seems to be working well right now, whatever is working,’’ Busch said of his hot streak. “We do need to be a little bit faster. There’s still some speed to be gained and some consistency throughout races as well keeping speed throughout a run. There’s room for improvement still. It’s early ... but excited to see how things are going for all of us.’’

While Busch claimed the No. 1 starting spot, Joey Logano set the track record Friday. Logano became the first NASCAR Sprint Cup driver to record a lap in excess of 100 mph at Martinsville., doing it in the first of two qualifying rounds. His lap was 100.201 mph.

Busch’s pole lap, 99.674 mph, came in the final round, which set positions 1-12. His Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Denny Hamlin, qualified second at 99.548 mph. Logano will start third, followed by Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon, who won here last fall.

Points leader Carl Edwards starts eighth. Danica Patrick qualified 10th, marking the second best starting spot of her Cup career behind only her 2013 Daytona 500 pole.

Busch earned his 14th career pole and first at Martinsville.

Every pole-sitter notes the advantage of having the stall near the exit of pit road and the advantage it is at this track.

Four of the last 12 race winners had that pit stall. In 11 of the last 12 races at Martinsville, the driver who had that stall scored a top-10 finish.

“You seem to come around the corner and you always dread that guy in the first pit box beating you out,’’ Busch said. “That’s a great thing for us. Drop the jack and lunge across the line and you’ll be good. You still need to run up front all day. I think it’s a great opportunity for us to pick up some spots.’’

Although Cup drivers have been on a short track with this new qualifying format, there were some who wondered about the traffic at Martinsville. Drivers reported that the 30-minute opening session was not as chaotic as expected and there were no incidents in either qualifying session.

“It was very well organized to everyone’s surprise I believe,’’ Johnson said.

Johnson and Logano are the only drivers to advance to the final round of qualifying in all five events this season.

“The guys were telling me that’s our sixth segment we’ve won in qualifying here and we only one pole, so I’m winning the wrong ones and it’s really frustrating me,’’ Logano said.

He wasn’t too disappointed with third, noting the inside line is the preferred line and that should help him at the start.

David Reutimann was the only driver who failed to qualify. 

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