Martin Truex Jr. will go after his second consecutive win in the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway from the pole.
Truex Jr., who led 152 laps from the second starting spot en route to the win in 2017, captured the top spot with a lap of 28.588 seconds, 188.890 mph.
“The first round, I was a little bit off and then some of it was driver and some of it was car and we just – like we always do – we put our heads together and cameup with a plan and we stepped it up, so feels good and thanks to everybody at Toyota and TRD,” Truex Jr. said. “Starting up front is key, so first pit stall will be good for here and hopefully we can back up what we did last year tomorrow night. It’s going to be tough, but it’s going to be fun.”
The pole was his series leading fourth of the season and the 19th of his career.
Last week’s winner at Daytona International Speedway Erik Jones qualified second with a lap of 28.611 seconds, 188.739 mph.
“Good pickup from the second round to the third round, but our Freightliner Camry probably had it in it,” Jones said. “I missed (Turns) 3 and 4 a little bit unfortunately and we just missed out there.”
Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch rounded out the top five.
“That’s a good effort for us,” Harvick said. “I think as you look at this place it’s hard to put a lap together and I just didn’t get off of two like I needed to. I kind of chattered the front end, but it’s still a good lap for us and a good starting spot.”
In between the second and third round Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who qualified 14th, came up to Kyle Busch’s car to talk to him. Earlier in the day Busch said he was disappointed that he did not hear from Stenhouse following an incident between the two last week at Daytona International Speedway.
“I just told him why I didn’t reach out,” Stenhouse Jr. said. “I felt like he ran his mouth enough on his radio and then after the race, so I didn’t really have anything to say to him. I honestly feel like I normally do reach out to people when I make mistakes and I clearly made a mistake, but with him running his mouth I just felt like I didn’t really need to call him. I just let him know that.”
Paul Menard, Ryan Blaney, Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, Daniel Suarez and Aric Almirola completed the top 12.
Jimmie Johnson qualified 27th, his worst start at Kentucky in eight races.
Denny Hamlin did not turn a lap in qualifying after having pre-qualifying inspection issues. He will start 36th. Matt DiBenedetto, Timmy Hill and Jesse Little also did not turn a lap.