Kyle Busch claims Brickyard pole
No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Kyle Busch at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)
By AMANDA VINCENT
Kyle Busch claimed his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole of 2016 but his first at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday by turning in a 48l.745-second/184.634 mph lap in the third of three rounds of qualifying for Sunday’s Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard, more commonly known as the Brickyard 400.
“It means a lot,” Busch said of starting on the pole at Indianapolis. “It’s definitely pretty special to be running the way we’re running and to have the success that we’ve had here the last couple of years at Indy, and I’d love nothing more than to try to win here again.”
Busch will share the front row on the starting grid with Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Carl Edwards.
“I was happy with my lap, and I just — I was surprised Kyle got me,” Edwards said. “That was a good lap for him. I mean, that was a good lap that he ran, because I felt like my lap was pretty good. But yeah, it’s frustrating right now to be second, because it’s so close, and the pole position is obviously huge here.”
Jimmie Johnson turned in the fastest lap, overall, of the three-round qualifying session, doing so with a 48.435-second/185.816 mph in the first round. Johnson, though, failed to get to the round of 12, the third round, winding up 13th in round two and, therefore, taking that spot on the grid.
Tony Stewart, a native of nearby Columbus, Ind., qualified third in what is assumed to be his final Brickyard 400 start.
“We’ll take it,” Stewart said. “This is the kind of weekend I wanted for my last weekend. I’m having a good time with it, so far.”
Meanwhile, Jeff Gordon, who grew up in Pittsboro, Ind., came out of retirement to fill-in for the sidelined Dale Earnhardt Jr. He began the competition portion of the Indy race weekend by qualifying Earnhardt’s No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in the 21st position.
“When we went out that second time, unfortunately, it (adjustments made to the car) just freed me up in the wrong areas,” Gordon said. “I got in the corner, and I was real loose getting in. Once I lost all the momentum in turn one, the whole lap was kind of over. It is disappointing, because I felt pretty good about it. I felt like I didn’t get the best lap the first time out. I thought with the adjustments, we could actually make some improvements.”
Denny Hamlin qualified fourth to give JGR three cars in the top-five on the starting grid, while Brad Keselowski rounded out the top-five in the final round of qualifying.
Here is the complete starting grid for Sunday’s Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard:
Row 1 — Kyle Busch (No. 18 Toyota), Carl Edwards (No. 19 Toyota)
Row 2 — Tony Stewart (No. 14 Chevrolet), Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Toyota)
Row 3 — Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Ford), Ryan Newman (No. 31 Chevrolet)
Row 4 — Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Chevrolet), Martin Truex Jr. (No. 78 Toyota)
Row 5 — Jamie McMurray (No. 1 Chevrolet), Kyle Larson (No. 42 Chevrolet)
Row 6 — Kurt Busch (No. 41 Chevrolet), Austin Dillon (No. 3 Chevrolet)
Row 7 — Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Chevrolet), Joey Logano (No. 22 Ford)
Row 8 — Chase Elliott (No. 24 Chevrolet), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (No. 17 Ford)
Row 9 — Ryan Blaney (No. 21 Ford), Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Toyota)
Row 10 — Greg Biffle (No. 16 Ford), Trevor Bayne (No. 6 Ford)
Row 11 — Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Chevrolet), Chris Buescher (No. 34 Ford)
Row 12 — Paul Menard (No. 27 Chevrolet), Danica Patrick (No. 10 Chevrolet)
Row 13 — A.J. Allmendinger (No. 47 Chevrolet), Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Chevrolet)
Row 14 — Michael McDowell (No. 95 Chevrolet), David Ragan (No. 23 Toyota)
Row 15 — Aric Almirola (No. 43 Ford), Matt DiBenedetto (No. 83 Toyota)
Row 16 — Clint Bowyer (No. 15 Chevrolet), Brian Scott (No. 44 Ford)
Row 17 — Landon Cassill (No. 38 Ford), Casey Mears (No. 13 Chevrolet)
Row 18 — Cole Whitt (No. 98 Chevrolet), Ryan Elliss (No. 93 Toyota)
Row 19 — Regan Smith (No. 7 Chevrolet), Michael Annett (No. 46 Chevrolet)
Row 20 — Reed Sorenson (No. 55 Chevrolet), Patrick Carpentier (No. 32 Ford)
DNQ (did not qualify) — Josh Wise