By AMANDA VINCENT
One brother’s loss was the other brother’s gain in the moments following NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying Friday for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. At first, Kyle Busch was on the pole, with his brother, Kurt Busch, alongside on the front row. But Kyle Busch’s No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota failed post-qualifying inspection because the toe of his rear wheels fell outside the legal range. As a result, his pole-winning qualifying time was disallowed, handing the pole over to his older brother. With his time disallowed, Kyle Busch will start Sunday’s race from the 39th position.
“Overall, with the way the develpments came up from tech inspection, this shows the amount of enforcement that NASCAR is ready to apply to their technical procedures on what a car has to do to comply to all specs,” Kurt Busch said.
Kyle Busch’s lap that initially claimed the pole was 28.925 seconds (191.668 mph). Kurt Busch’s eventual pole-winning lap in the final round of qualifying was 0.013 seconds slower with a speed of 191.582 mph. Kurt Busch posted mirroring lap speeds in the first two rounds of the three-round qualifying sessions with a couple of 191.635 mph laps.
“It was a good, consistent car, and I hope that translates into race speed as well,” Busch said. “But thanks to (crew chief) Tony Gibson and everybody at Stewart-Haas. It’s a matter of preparing the best car during the offseason to come to these 1.5-mile tracks and seeing what you’ve got. It’s just great to feel this right away with the speed and the energy from the car.”
With Kyle Busch moved to the back and Kurt Busch on the pole, Jamie McMurray moved up to the front row to start alongside Kurt Busch.
“I’m really proud of everyone at the entire shop,” McMurray said. “When you come to a 1.5-mile track, you’re really depending on your car, and our 1.5-mile program last year wasn’t where it needed to be. They put a lot of effort into it.”
With post-qualifying inspection completed, Trevor Bayne and Ryan Newman wound up with second-row spots on the starting grid, while Ricky Stenhouse Jr. claimed the fifth starting spot.
Thirty-nine cars made qualifying attempts, one car shy of a full race field of 40 cars. Here is the complete starting grid for Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta:
Row 1 — Kurt Busch (No. 41 Chevrolet), Jamie McMurray (No. 1 Chevrolet)
Row 2 — Trevor Bayne (No. 6 Ford), Ryan Newman (No. 31 Chevrolet)
Row 3 — Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (No. 17 Ford), Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Chevrolet)
Row 4 — Carl Edwards (No. 19 Toyota), Austin Dillon (No. 3 Chevrolet)
Row 5 — Martin Truex Jr. (No. 78 Toyota), Brian Scott (No. 44 Ford)
Row 6 — Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Chevrolet), Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Toyota)
Row 7 — Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Toyota), Greg Biffle (No. 16 Ford)
Row 8 — Casey Mears (No. 13 Chevrolet), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Chevrolet)
Row 9 — Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Ford), Ty Dillon (No. 14 Chevrolet)
Row 10 — Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Chevrolet), Kyle Larson (No. 42 Chevrolet)
Row 11 — Paul Menard (No. 27 Chevrolet), A.J. Allmendinger (No. 47 Chevrolet)
Row 12 — Ryan Blaney (No. 21 Ford), Chae Elliott (No. 24 Chevrolet)
Row 13 — Danica Patrick (No. 10 Chevrolet), Joey Logano (No. 22 Ford)
Row 14 — Aric Almirola (No. 43 Ford), Clint Bowyer (No. 15 Chevrolet)
Row 15 — Landon Cassill (No. 38 Ford), Regan Smith (No. 7 Chevrolet)
Row 16 — Chris Buescher (No. 34 Ford), Michael McDowell (No. 95 Chevrolet)
Row 17 — David Ragan (No. 23 Toyota), Michael Annett (No. 46 Chevrolet)
Row 18 — Matt DiBenedetto (No. 83 Toyota), Cole Whitt (No. 98 Chevrolet)
Row 19 — Josh Wise (No. 30 Chevrolet), Jeffrey Earnhardt (No. 32 Ford)
Row 20 — Kyle Busch (No. 18 Toyota)
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