By AMANDA VINCENT
Matt Kenseth claimed his second NASCAR Sprint Cup pole of the 2015 season on Thursday with a 27.799-second/194.252 mph lap in the third and final round of qualifying at Charlotte Motor Speedway for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600.
“That was a good lap for us; all three laps were pretty good,” Kenseth said.
Kenseth will share the front row with Joey Logano on Sunday. Kenseth’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Carl Edwards was third in the final round to claim the inside, second-row starting spot. He’ll share the second row with Greg Biffle.
Kenseth was fast throughout the qualifying session posting the fastest lap (27.913 seconds/193.458 mph) in round one. In the second round, he was second fastest to Kevin Harvick. Harvick’s fast lap of the round clocked in at 27.861 seconds/193.819 mph.
“The DeWalt guys did a great job on our Camry today,” Kenseth said. “They made some great adjustments, and they worked hard on it the last couple weeks to get it ready to come here. I feel like we’re gaining on it. I thought we had good speed today.”
After posting a lap second to Kenseth in the first round and then topping him in round two, Harvick wound up eighth in round three, and therefore, will start eighth Sunday evening.
Denny Hamlin will start fifth, giving Joe Gibbs Racing three cars in the top-five on the starting grid. Also advancing to the third round and claiming spots sixth through 12th on the grid were Brad Keselowski, David Ragan, Harvick, Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr. and Tony Stewart.
JGR’s one other entry, the No. 18 of Kyle Busch, got to the second round and claimed the 17th starting spot.
“He (team owner Joe Gibbs) was just happy all our cars qualified really well,” Kenseth said. “Obviously, last year was a little bit of a down year and feel like we’ve all been getting better this year. It’s nice to see the cars had some speed. Of course Denny won everything last weekend (NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race), so we’re hoping we can carry that momentum and keep all four cars up front).
Despite being fast in all three rounds, Kenseth suffered a tire issue in round one. That issue, though, came after making his fast lap of the round. Hendrick Motorsports driver Kasey Kahne wasn’t as fortunate. Kahne did make a timed lap in the first round, but because of the issue, was unable to go out a second time to improve upon his 33rd-place lap.
No Hendrick Motorsports driver got to the third round of qualifying. All three of Kahne’s teammates — Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon — did make it to the second round, but that’s where their qualifying session ended. Johnson will start highest among the HMS camp in 13th. Earnhardt will roll of 15th and Gordon 18th.
With 48 cars on the entry list, five drivers failed to make the race: Jeb Burton, Mike Bliss, Travis Kvapil, Jeff Green, Brendan Gaughan. An on-track incident for Bliss brought out a red flag in round one of qualifying.
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