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NASCAR Cup: Kurt Busch leads Ford dominance of Michigan qualifying

BROOKLYN, MI – JUNE 08: Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford, poses with the Busch Pole Award after qualifying for the pole position for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Firekeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway on June 8, 2018 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

By AMANDA VINCENT

Kurt Busch turned in a 35.405-second/203.361 mph lap in the third of three rounds of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn on Friday to claim the pole for Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400. It’s Busch’s second pole of the season, 15 races into the year, and his third-career pole at MIS.

“This one is fun, because I could trust the car and I knew I needed to go after it hard,” Busch said. “Watching all the Fords in practice I knew we had a good shot at it. The guys tweaked on the tires the right amount. It is a new compound, left and right side, and we didn’t want to get caught up too much in chasing the tires. We went with status quo. I think it is because of the speed that I like here and Texas and the balance we had in our car in qualifying. Now we need to translate that to race speed. I enjoy qualifying here. It is a pleasure to have one of these Fords and have Yates power under the hood. To go 217 mph, to haul the mail going into the corner I love that feeling.”

Michigan-native driver Brad Keselowski qualified second to share the front row with Busch.

“I think we were right there for the pole,” Keselowski said. “I made just a small little mistake in one and two that I wish I could have back. Credit to Paul (Wolfe, crew chief) and the team; they made some good adjustments the last round and got us from running a 60 or 70 down to a 40. That is a pretty big gain. I just didn’t quite get all the gain they made on the car out of it, but we have a good starting spot and it bodes well for the Miller Lite Ford. Hopefully, we can get a good run Sunday.”

Ford was tops throughout qualifying, with the manufacturer claiming all but one position in the top-three rows on the starting grid. The only non-Ford driver in the top-six was Toyota driver Kyle Busch, who qualified third.

Busch’s pole-winning lap in the final round was the fastest lap, overall, in the qualifying session, but his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate, Kevin Harvick, was tops in the first two rounds, posting a 35.503-second/202.800 mph lap in the opening round and a 35.452-second/203.092 mph lap in the second. In the final round, Harvick claimed the fourth starting spot.

“Our goal is to run the same speeds throughout each round, and if not, run your fastest at the end, and we ran the same speed in all three rounds,” Harvick said. “To be honest, I didn’t really expect everybody to pick up two-tenths. I thought we had a little bit to just keep from trying to screw up, but in the end, I needed to get a little more. It was still a good qualifying effort, so we will just go from there.”

Seven Fords survived to the final round, the round of 12, of qualifying, all claiming top-10 starting spots.

Chevrolet, though, struggled. Ryan Newman was the only Chevy driver in the final round, and when the session was over, he wound up 11th.

Chevrolet driver Kyle Larson, despite winning the three most recent Cup Series races at Michigan struggled on Friday. After winding up outside the top-10 of the speed chart in the day’s lone qualifying session, he turned in the 26th-fastest lap in the opening round of qualifying, failing to advance to round two.

“Our car has just been pretty far off, I feel like, all day,” Larson said. “It’s really tight. I don’t feel like I can turn the wheel very far, either. I don’t know why that is, but we’ve got some smart people in our race trailer and on our race team that will get it worked out. We’ll get some laps tomorrow and, hopefully, be better.”

Chase Elliott, who has finished second in three of the last four MIS races did advance to round two, but his qualifying efforts ended their, as he wound up 13th.

Below, is the complete starting grid for Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway:
Row 1 — Kurt Busch (No. 41 Ford), Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Ford)
Row 2 — Kyle Busch (No. 18 Toyota), Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Ford)
Row 3 — Joey Logano (No. 22 Ford), Aric Almirola (No. 10 Ford)
Row 4 — Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (No. 17 Ford), Erik Jones (No. 20 Toyota)
Row 5 — Ryan Blaney (No. 21 Ford), Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Toyota)
Row 6 — Ryan Newman (No. 31 Chevrolet), Clint Bowyer (No. 14 Ford)
Row 7 — Chase Elliott (No. 9 Chevrolet), William Byron (No. 24 Chevrolet)
Row 8 — Paul Menard (No. 21 Ford), Austin Dillon (No. 3 Chevrolet)
Row 9 — Martin Truex Jr. (No. 78 Toyota), Chris Buescher (No. 37 Chevrolet)
Row 10 — Matt Kenseth (No. 6 Ford), Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Chevrolet)
Row 11 — Alex Bowman (No. 88 Chevrolet), Daniel Suarez (No. 19 Toyota)
Row 12 — Michael McDowell (No. 34 Ford), Jamie McMurray (No. 1 Chevrolet)
Row 13 — A.J. Allmendinger (No. 47 Chevrolet), Kyle Larson (No. 42 Chevrolet)
Row 14 — David Ragan (No. 38 Ford), Darrell Wallace Jr. (No. 43 Chevrolet)
Row 15 — Kasey Kahne (No. 95 Chevrolet), Matt DiBenedetto (No. 32 Ford)
Row 16 — Ty Dillon (No. 13 Chevrolet), Corey LaJoie (No. 72 Chevrolet)
Row 17 — Ross Chastain (No. 15 Chevrolet), Gray Gaulding (No. 23 Toyota)
Row 18 — B.J. McLeod (No. 51 Chevrolet), Landon Cassill (No. 00 Chevrolet)
Row 19 — D.J. Kennington (No. 7 Chevrolet), Timmy Hill (No. 66 Toyota)
Row 20 — Garrett Smithley (No. 99 Chevrolet)

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Posted by on June 9, 2018. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,Monster Energy NASCAR Cup,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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