NASCAR: Kyle Busch takes provisional Martinsville pole
Kyle Busch is still on a hot streak at Martinsville Speedway.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver earned the provisional pole for the First Data 500, the first race in the Round of 8, with a lap of 96.254 mph in Saturday afternoon qualifying. Busch is the defending race winner, and in the spring race he qualified second and finished in the same spot.
“We’ve been good here the last two years, which is nice, especially this time of year being able to come out here and have a pole run,” said Busch. “Feels good. The M&M’s Camry is obviously good and has had good speed since we’ve been here. We’ve just been trying to fine tune the balance and trying to get it that much better.
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“We were close in the spring, we were second best, and so we want to be first best and automatically transfer. That’s what we’re shooting for, that’s why we’re here, and we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”
The pole is the fourth of the season for Busch and the 31st of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career.
Joining Busch on the front row is the most recent winner at Martinsville, Clint Bowyer. Bowyer clocked in second at 96.122 mph.
The rest of the top five were Denny Hamlin (96.112 mph), Ryan Blaney (96.093 mph), and Aric Almirola (96.058 mph). Blaney was fastest in the first round of qualifying.
Martin Truex Jr. clocked in sixth best at 95.932 mph with Kurt Busch seventh at 95.883 mph. Busch led the way in Round 2 of qualifying.
Completing the top 10 were Brad Keselowski (95.7681 mph), Daniel Suarez (95.704 mph) and Kyle Larson (95.607 mph).
Three playoff drivers qualified outside the top 10. Joey Logano was 11th fastest at 95.516 mph. Kevin Harvick clocked in at 95.530 mph, which was quick enough for 13th on the board. Harvick did not make the final round of qualifying.
The lowest-qualifying playoff driver was Chase Elliott in the 21st position. Elliott ran a lap of 95.146 mph.
Darrell Wallace Jr. will go to a backup car after crashing with just under 10 minutes to go in the first round of qualifying, hitting the Turn 4 wall with the left side of the No. 43 after a wheel-hop getting into the corner.
All qualifying results are unofficial until post-qualifying inspection takes place Sunday morning.
UP NEXT: First Data 500 at 2:30 p.m. ET Sunday.
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ABOUT KELLY CRANDALL
Kelly has been on the NASCAR beat full-time since 2013, and joined RACER as chief NASCAR writer in 2017. Her work has also appeared in NASCAR.com, the NASCAR Illustrated magazine, and NBC Sports. A corporate communications graduate from Central Penn College, Crandall is a two-time George Cunningham Writer of the Year recipient from the National Motorsports Press Association.