By AMANDA VINCENT
Kurt Busch claimed his third NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole on Friday with a lap of 50.676 seconds/177.599 mph at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa., during the third of three rounds of qualifying for Sunday’s Axalta We Paint Winners 400. It’s also his 19th-career pole.
“It is great to be here on the podium with the pole,” Busch said. The first few laps in practice we were down there in the 30 range with how different the track felt for the set-up that we brought.”
Busch will be joined on the front row by Carl Edwards. Martin Truex Jr. and Jeff Gordon claimed second-row starting spots.
Busch’s Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kevin Harvick was fastest in both of the first two rounds of qualifying before winding up fifth in the final round.
Only seven of the 12 drivers advancing to round three posted laps in the round. Denny Hamlin spun, bringing out the red flag with 39 seconds in the final round and ending qualifying early. Hamlin failed to complete a third-round lap beefore the spin, and four other drivers making it to the final round — Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano and Kasey Kahne — also failed to post lap times before Hamlin’s spin that ended qualifying.
The other two drivers posting times in round three, Austin Dillon and Brad Keselowski, will start the race sixth and seventh on Sunday. The drivers without round-three times will start the race eighth through 12th in the following order: Hamlin, Johnson, Busch, Logano and Kahne. Their specific order between eighth and 12th were determined by their second-round times.
Complete starting grid for Sunday’s Axalta We Paint Winners 400:
Row 1: Kurt Busch (No. 41 Chevrolet), Carl Edwards (No. 19 Toyota)
Row 2: Martin Truex Jr. (No. 78 Chevrolet), Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Chevrolet)
Row 3: Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Chevrolet), Austin Dillon (No. 3 Chevrolet)
Row 4: Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Ford), Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Toyota)
Row 5: Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Chevrolet), Kyle Busch (No. 18 Toyota)
Row 6: Joey Logano (No. 22 Ford), Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Chevrolet)
Row 7: Ryan Newman (No. 31 Chevrolet), Jamie McMurray (No. 1 Chevrolet)
Row 8: Kyle Larson (No. 42 Chevrolet), Paul Menard (No. 27 Chevrolet)
Row 9: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (No. 17 Ford), Casey Mears (No. 13 Chevrolet)
Row 10: Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Toyota), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Chevrolet)
Row 11: David Ragan (No. 55 Toyota), Danica Patrick (No. 10 Chevrolet)
Row 12: Clint Bowyer (No. 15 Toyota), Sam Hornish Jr (No. 9 Ford)
Row 13: Aric Almirola (No. 43 Ford), A.J. Allmendinger (No. 47 Chevrolet)
Row 14: Greg Biffle (No. 16 Ford), Tony Stewart (No. 14 Chevrolet)
Row 15: Ty Dillon (No. 33 Chevrolet), Justin Allgaier (No. 51 Chevrolet)
Row 16: Michael Annett (No. 46 Chevrolet), Landon Cassill (No. 40 Chevrolet)
Row 17: Trevor Bayne (No. 6 Ford), Alex Bowman (No. 7 Chevrolet)
Row 18: David Gilliland (No. 38 Ford), Brett Moffitt (No. 34 Ford)
Row 19: J.J. Yeley (No. 23 Toyota), Josh Wise (No. 98 Ford)
Row 20: Cole Whitt (No. 35 Ford), Jeb Burton (No. 26 Toyota)
Row 21: Matt DiBenedetto (No. 83 Toyota), Travis Kvapil (No. 32 Ford)
Row 22: Brendan Gaughan (No. 62 Chevrolet)
Follow Auto Racing Daily on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or like Auto Racing Daily on Facebook (facebook.com/autorcngdaily). Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook: NASCAR Examiner