Matt Kenseth set a scorching qualifying lap (194.532) on Thursday to find himself in a familiar spot at Charlotte Motor Speedway – sitting on pole position ahead of Saturday night’s Spirit Cup race.
This was Kenseth’s fourth pole position of 2015, setting a personal single-season high. Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing will start alongside Kenseth for what is the first Round 2 race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship playoff. Joey Logano, Greg Biffle and Denny Hamlin completed the top-five.
Completing the top-10 were Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards, Aric Almirola and Ryan Newman. It was a disappointing qualifying session for Kevin Harvick, the defending Sprint Cup champion and race-winner, who qualified 11th. Dale Earnhardt Jr. qualified 12th.
Kenseth, who will start at pole position for the 17th time in his illustrious career, likes to joke that he doesn’t qualify well. “When they get my car to drive absolutely perfect, every once in a while I’m not going to mess it up,” Kenseth said. “Tonight it was pretty darn close to perfect. I was going to really have to mess it up to not (get the pole)”.
Only 3 of the 12 drivers remaining in the Chase didn’t make it to the final round of qualifying — Brad Keselowski (13th), Martin Truex Jr. (15th) and Jeff Gordon (22nd).
JGR continued its dominance with four cars qualifying in the top eight.
A frustrated Tony Stewart took to social media to vent his disappointment after the 36th. “Totally F ing embarrassed about tonight,” Stewart posted on Twitter. “Something has to change.”
Totally F ing embarrassed about tonight. Something has to change
— Tony Stewart (@TonyStewart) October 8, 2015