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NASCAR Cup: Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch claim front row in Bristol qualifying

BRISTOL, TN – APRIL 13: Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Skittles Toyota, stands by his car during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 13, 2018 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)

By AMANDA VINCENT

The Busch family dominated Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying at Bristol (Ten.) Motor Speedway on Friday, claiming both front-row starting spots for Food City 500, scheduled for Sunday. Younger brother Kyle Busch claimed the pole with a 14.895-second/128.822 mph lap in the third of three rounds of qualifying. It’s his second pole, eight races into the 2018 season, and the second of his Cup Series career at Bristol.

“He always told everybody, ‘If you think I’m good, wait for my younger brother,’ so I’m glad I’m living up to those expectations,” Kyle said of brother Kurt.

The brothers traded the top-two spots on the speed chart back-and-forth through the three rounds of qualifying, with Kyle bettering Kurt with a 14.879-second/128.960 mph lap in the opening round, and Kurt posting the fastest lap in round two at 14.871 seconds/129.030 mph in the second round.

“I have to give it to my guys; they do an awesome job, and the preparation and everything that we’ve got going on right now is great for our Skittles Camry,” Kyle said. “Can’t say enough about Joe Gibbs Racing and TRD Costa Mesa — all those guys with the motors and everything, too. It’s nice to come out here and grab a front row starting spot, but I have to be careful and mindful to have a good race car, because every time I’ve ever started on the front row, I’ve not finished up front, and any time I’ve ever started in the back, I’ve finished up front.”

Brad Keselowski and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. claimed second-row starting spots, qualifying third and fourth, and Ryan Blaney qualified fifth to, along with Kurt Busch, give Ford four positions in the top-four of the starting grid. With Toyota on the pole and Ford claiming the other top-five starting spots, Kyle Larson was the highest-qualifying Chevrolet driver in sixth.

The beginning of each of the three rounds of qualifying were quiet, with drivers not wanting to be among the first onto the track, as the PJ1 traction compound applied to the lower groove of the track needing heat for drivers to get the desired effect. In contrast the final minutes of each round produced somewhat of a traffic jam, with drivers being knocked out of advancing positions in the final seconds of the first two rounds.

Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. were among the big name drivers knocked out of advancing spots late in the opening round, and as a result, wound up qualifying outside the top-24. They’ll share the 13th row on the starting grid, as Hamlin qualified 25th and Truex 26th. They’ll start ahead of this season’s winningest driver, so far, though. Three-time 2018 winner Kevin Harvick will bring up the rear in 39th at the green flag Sunday after not making a qualifying attempt. His No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team went to a backup car after a practice crash and didn’t get the backup ready in time to get it through pre-qualifying inspection.

Below, is the complete starting grid for the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway:
Row 1 — Kyle Busch (No. 18 Toytoa), Kurt Busch (No. 41 Ford)
Row 2 — Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Ford), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (No. 17 Ford)
Row 3 — Ryan Blaney (No. 12 Ford), Kyle Larson (No. 42 Chevrolet)
Row 4 — Paul Menard (No. 21 Ford), Alex Bowman (No. 88 Chevrolet)
Row 5 — Michael McDowell (No. 34 Ford), Joey Logano (No. 22 Ford)
Row 6 — William Byron (No. 24 Chevrolet), Daniel Suarez (No. 19 Toyota)
Row 7 — Erik Jones (No. 20 Toyota), Clint Bowyer (No. 14 Ford)
Row 8 — Kasey Kahne (No. 95 Chevrolet), Chase Elliott (No. 9 Chevrolet)
Row 9 — Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Chevrolet), A.J. Allmendinger (No. 47 Chevrolet)
Row 10 — Aric Almirola (No. 10 Ford), Darrell Wallace Jr. (No. 43 Chevrolet)
Row 11 — Austin Dillon (No. 3 Chevrolet), Chris Buescher (No. 37 Chevrolet)
Row 12 — David Ragan (No. 38 Ford), Matt DiBenedetto (No. 32 Ford)
Row 13 — Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Toyota), Martin Truex Jr. (No. 78 Toyota)
Row 14 — Ross Chastain 9No. 15 Chevrolet), Gray Gaulding (No. 23 Toyota)
Row 15 — Landon Cassill (No. 00 Chevrolet), Ryan Newman (No. 31 Chevrolet)
Row 16 — Jamie McMurray (No. 1 Chevrolet), Ty Dillon (No. 13 Chevrolet)
Row 17 — Trevor Bayne (No. 6 Ford), Corey LaJoie (No. 72 Chevrolet)
Row 18 — D.J. Kennington (No. 96 Toyota), Reed Sorenson (No. 55 Chevrolet)
Row 19 — Harrison Rhodes (No. 51 Chevrolet), Chad Finchum (No. 66 Toyota)
Row 20 — Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Ford)

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Posted by on April 13, 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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