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NASCAR Cup: Matt Kenseth on pole at Richmond

Matt Kenseth (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)

Matt Kenseth (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)

By AMANDA VINCENT

With a 22.055-second/122.421 mph lap in the third of three rounds of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying at Richmond (Va.) Raceway on Friday, Matt Kenseth claimed the pole for Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400, the 2017 Cup Series season finale. It’s his second pole of the season and the third of his career at Richmond.

“That was actually a three-lap run; that was a longer run for us today,” Kenseth said. “Yeah, I don’t know. It drove really good the first practice, but it was real cool out and there was a lot of rubber on the track and as the day went on we got worse and worse, so it’s a night race tomorrow night, so I’m hoping that the track is more like it was this morning. We seemed to have good speed and good balance, so this is a great start to the weekend. Just hope for the best tomorrow.”

Denny Hamlin qualified second to give Joe Gibbs Racing a sweep of the front row of the starting grid.

“We improved a little bit each round, which is good,” Hamlin said. “We ran nearly the same time each round, which is good, so we’re – I thought we had a pretty good car in race trim. We still need to work on it a little bit, but luckily my crew chief has a lot of time to talk, so we’ll talk it over tonight and figure out which direction we want to head tomorrow to try to get us another win.”

Kyle Larson’s 21.884-second/123.378 mph lap in the first round was the fastest lap, overall, of the three-round session. He wound up qualifying fourth to share the second row with third-place qualifying Kurt Busch.

Larson had fewer laps on his tires than other drivers advancing to the third round of qualifying by virtue of making only one-lap runs to others’ two in each of the first two rounds. Although, Larson was able to top the speed chart in round one by running only one lap, most drivers increased their lap times on lap two of their two-lap runs. Larson, finally, made a two-lap run in the final round.

Martin Truex Jr. was fastest in the second round of qualifying, with his lap of record that round clocking in at 21.943 seconds/123.046 mph. Eventual pole sitter, Kenseth, was third in that round behind Truex and Busch after being second to Larson in the opening round.

“The first round it felt really good,” Kenseth said. “The second round it was, it was pretty good as well. Third round it didn’t feel as good, but luckily it was fast enough so it kind of missed the balance just a little bit there, but got a fast enough lap to get the pole. I was happy with my car this morning. Second practice wasn’t as good, so I’m hoping it will be good tomorrow night.”

After being second in round two, Truex wound up taking the fifth spot on the race starting grid.

Here’s a look at the complete starting grid for Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway:
Row 1 — Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Toyota), Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Toyota)
Row 2 — Kurt Busch (No. 41 Ford), Kyle Larson (No. 42 Chevrolet)
Row 3 — Martin Truex Jr. (No. 78 Toyota), Kevin Harvick (No. 14 Ford)
Row 4 — Kyle Busch (No. 18 Toyota), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (No. 17 Ford)
Row 5 — Chase Elliott (No. 24 Chevrolet), Erik Jones (No. 77 Toyota)
Row 6 — Jamie McMurray (No. 1 Chevrolet), Joey Logano (No. 22 Ford)
Row 7 — Clint Bowyer (No. 14 Ford), Ryan Blaney (No. 21 Ford)
Row 8 — Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Ford), Daniel Suarez (No. 19 Toyota)
Row 9 — Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Chevrolet), Trevor Bayne (No. 6 Ford)
Row 10 — Danica Patrick (No. 10 Ford), Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Chevrolet)
Row 11 — Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Chevrolet), A.J. Allmendinger (No. 47 Chevrolet)
Row 12 — Aric Almirola (No. 43 Ford), Chris Buescher (No. 37 Chevrolet)
Row 13 — Matt DiBenedetto (No. 32 Ford), Paul Menard (No. 27 Chevrolet)
Row 14 — Ryan Newman (No. 31 Chevrolet), Michael McDowell (No. 95 Chevrolet)
Row 15 — David Ragan (No. 38 Ford), Landon Cassill (No. 34 Ford)
Row 16 — Austin Dillon (No. 3 Chevrolet), Ty Dillon (No. 13 Chevrolet)
Row 17 — Corey LaJoie (No. 83 Toyota), Gray Gaulding (No. 23 Toyota)
Row 18 — Cole Whitt (No. 72 Chevrolet), Reed Sorenson (No. 55 Chevrolet)
Row 19 — Jeffrey Earnhardt (No. 33 Chevrolet), Derrike Cope (No. 15 Chevrolet)
Row 20 — B.J. McLeod (No. 51 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 (facebook.com/nascarexaminer)

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Posted by on September 9, 2017. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,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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