Matt Kenseth wins FireKeepers Casino Hotel Pole DayShare
Matt Kenseth, the last of 12 drivers to make a pole qualifying attempt Friday, made the most of it at Michigan International Speedway. He bumped teammate Denny Hamlin off the provisional pole to capture the coveted No. 1 starting position for Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race.
Kenseth posted a lap of 197.488 miles per hour to edge Hamlin by just 92 hundredths of a second with Hamlin posting a speed of 196.990. It was Kenseth’s third pole of the season and his first at MIS in 33 attempts. His previous best Michigan start was second in August of 2011.
With Carl Edwards qualifying third fastest, Joe Gibbs Racing garnered a sweep of the first three starting positions. The Gibbs drivers swept the first four positions in round one of qualifying with Kyle Busch joining his teammates as the fourth fastest. With round two featuring the 12 fastest qualifiers from round one it appeared another sweep was in order until Austin Dillon spoiled the Gibbs party by registering the fourth fastest qualifying speed.
A disappointed Hamlin made light of his situation stating, “Matt was probably too old to remember to lift there (in turns three and four) so he got us. Our team has just been working on getting better and we haven’t been at the top of our game for the last year and one-half.
“It’s at the shop and the drivers are getting smarter and better. When you have drivers you can feed off of, like the three teammates I have, it makes a difference. That’s where you’re seeing the results.”
Kenseth said he felt there was a chance for a one-two-three sweep this morning before practice started but felt, realistically, he would probably be number three.
“We were a long way off of Carl in practice,” Kenseth explained. “I don’t know what changes they (his team) made in practice they know they changed a lot of stuff that woke this thing (car) up and added a lot of speed.
“The first half of my second qualifying lap was pretty good but the second half got exciting and I got to sliding up the track and that bogged me down a little. I was not sure I was going to have it but the guys gave me an awesome car.”
A confident Edwards stated that if everything went as plan after the first qualifying session he would probably win the pole. That was not quite the case but he still established a sixth top-10 start at MIS and 13th in 23 races this season.
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