Kyle Busch Wins Phoenix Pole
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on March 11, 2016 | 7:59 P.M. EST
Driver No. 18 picked up career pole No. 18. (Photo: Getty Images)
Kyle Busch took the pole for Sunday's Good Sam 500 at Phoenix International Raceway to lead a 1-2-3 qualifying sweep for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Busch turned a fast lap of 138.387 mph to earn his first pole of the season and 18th of his Sprint Cup career.
“We just cooled everything back down to make sure we gave it everything we got,” Busch said after turning his fastest lap in the day’s final session. “We just made a couple of fine-tuning adjustments from what we ran before and it was a tick faster, not much, just a tick.”
Carl Edwards will join Busch on the front row.
Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top five.
However, Johnson crashed hard into the outside Turn 2 wall after turning his fast lap. He was not injured in the accident but will have to drop to the rear of Sunday’s field in a back-up car.
“Certainly a lot of straight in an area of the track I didn’t need to have straight,” Johnson said. “We’ll have to get to the bottom of it and see what went on. Just a really hard impact into the outside wall.
“Thankful that we have SAFER barriers and soft walls but very disappointed because we had such a fast race car. Thankfully, we have to work on the back-up car and try to get it up to speed and get it going.”
Matt Kenseth, Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. completed the first 10 qualifiers.
“It is a good start to the weekend again and that is what we have to do each week, get a good start to the weekend and a good start for the race on Sunday,” Stenhouse Jr. said. “We will go to work tomorrow just trying to make sure we get a car that turns but has good grip off and kind of look for that long run speed.”
Other notables in Sunday’s field include seven-time Phoenix winner Kevin Harvick in the 17th starting spot, Brad Keselowski (19th) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (26th).
Kasey Kahne had an issue in an early qualifying segment when smoke billowed from under the hood of his car and he brought it to a stop on the apron. The engine likely went into EFI ‘protection mode’ and essentially blew-up. They will get the 24th pick for pit selection, but will start at the rear of the field in Sunday’s race because they will go to a back-up engine.
Sprint Cup Series teams will have a pair of practice sessions on Saturday.