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Kurt Busch takes Michigan pole over Brad Keselowski

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Kurt Busch takes Michigan pole over Brad Keselowski
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Jun 8, 2018, 9:06 PM

Kurt Busch loves coming to Michigan and on Friday he showed why.

Busch surprised his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kevin Harvick with an average lap speed of 203.361 mph in the final round of qualifying to win the pole for Sunday’s FireKeepers 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

Harvick had easily been fastest through the first two rounds.

Brad Keselowski ended up second (203.156 mph), Kyle Busch was third (202.954 mph), Harvick fourth and Joey Logano completed the top-five.

The pole is Busch’s second this season, third at Michigan and 24th in his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career.

“I had the confidence in the car and my guys had it really dialed in,” Kurt Busch said. “To come to Michigan, and especially it being the manufacturers’ backyard, but the fact that we get to go 217 mph into the corners, it makes it fun and you can fun all the aero balance out the tires.

“I was surprised by tire grip level. I thought the way they did the Goodyear tire test they were going to have less grip and maybe that will happen in the race runs. In qualifying, we got ourselves a pole today.”

Asked how he will translate the qualifying performance into a potential first win of the season, Busch said, “We just need to focus now on race-trim, make sure the car doesn’t burn up one tire more than the other.

“Still, I need to drive aggressive. I need to stay firm on the gas pedal and not be hesitant and trust the grip-level and the aero of our Ford.”

Rounding out the Top 12 starters are Aric Almirola, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Erik Jones, Ryan Blaney, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Newman and Clint Bowyer.

Round 2

Harvick went out early and again made quick work of the competition in Round 2.

His average lap speed of 203.092 mph was the fastest registered Friday up to this point. He moved to the final round of qualifying along with his three SHR teammates.

Kyle Busch ended up second (202.049 mph) and Blaney was third (201.981 mph). Kurt Busch finished fourth and Keselowski completed the top-five.

Also advancing to the final round were Logano, Hamlin, Bowyer, Newman, Jones, Stenhouse and Almirola.

Newman was the only Chevrolet driver to advance to the Top 12.

Among those who failed to advance were Chase Elliott, who was knocked out at the last minute by a late run from Hamlin; William Byron, Paul Menard, Martin Truex Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Alex Bowman and Daniel Suarez.

“We got better in the last round there, we were just way too tight,” Truex said. “We were way off in practice. It was just one of those days that we chased the balance a lot.”

Round 1

Harvick set a blistering pace in the first round that saw eight Fords and two Chevys claim the Top 10 speeds and the best Toyota coming in at 13th-fastest.

Harvick led with an average lap speed of 202.800 mph to lead the way. Blaney was second (201.896 mph) and Keselowski was third (201.461 mph). Logano was fourth and Menard completed the top-five.

Completing the Top 10 were Bowman, Almirola, Newman, Kurt Busch and Stenhouse.

Kyle Larson, who has won the past three races at Michigan, was the biggest surprise to fail to advance to Round 2. He ended up with the 26th-fastest speed – his worst starting position since the season-opening Daytona 500.

“Our car has been pretty far off all day, just really tight,” Larson said. “I just couldn’t even turn the wheel pretty far. I don’t know what that is.

“We got some smart people on our team that will figure it out and make it better for practice tomorrow.”

Among the others who failed to advance were A.J. Allmendinger, Darrell Wallace Jr., Kasey Kahne, Ty Dillon and Matt DiBenedetto.

“I didn’t think the track changed a lot. We ran pretty much the same speed as practice,” Allmendinger said. “I’m just terrible here.”

 
Cla#DriverManufacturerTimeGapMph
1 41 united_states Kurt Busch  Ford 35.405   203.361
2 2 united_states Brad Keselowski  Ford 35.439 0.034 203.166
3 18 united_states Kyle Busch  Toyota 35.447 0.042 203.120
4 4 united_states Kevin Harvick  Ford 35.476 0.071 202.954
5 22 united_states Joey Logano  Ford 35.614 0.209 202.168
6 10 united_states Aric Almirola  Ford 35.713 0.308 201.607
7 17 united_states Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  Ford 35.774 0.369 201.263
8 20 united_states Erik Jones  Toyota 35.796 0.391 201.140
9 12 united_states Ryan Blaney  Ford 35.858 0.453 200.792
10 11 united_states Denny Hamlin  Toyota 35.928 0.523 200.401
11 31 united_states Ryan Newman  Chevrolet 35.989 0.584 200.061
12 14 united_states Clint Bowyer  Ford 36.039 0.634 199.784
13 9 united_states Chase Elliott  Chevrolet 35.904 0.499 200.535
14 24 united_states William Byron  Chevrolet 35.912 0.507 200.490
15 21 united_states Paul Menard  Ford 35.941 0.536 200.328
16 3 united_states Austin Dillon  Chevrolet 35.942 0.537 200.323
17 78 united_states Martin Truex Jr.  Toyota 35.959 0.554 200.228
18 37 united_states Chris Buescher  Chevrolet 35.985 0.580 200.083
19 6 united_states Matt Kenseth  Ford 36.035 0.630 199.806
20 48 united_states Jimmie Johnson  Chevrolet 36.039 0.634 199.784
21 88 united_states Alex Bowman  Chevrolet 36.054 0.649 199.700
22 19 mexico Daniel Suarez  Toyota 36.064 0.659 199.645
23 34 united_states Michael McDowell  Ford 36.116 0.711 199.358
24 1 united_states Jamie McMurray  Chevrolet 36.126 0.721 199.302
25 47 united_states A.J. Allmendinger  Chevrolet 36.172 0.767 199.049
26 42 united_states Kyle Larson  Chevrolet 36.181 0.776 198.999
27 38 united_states David Ragan  Ford 36.228 0.823 198.741
28 43 united_states Darrell Wallace Jr.  Chevrolet 36.262 0.857 198.555
29 95 united_states Kasey Kahne  Chevrolet 36.372 0.967 197.954
30 32 united_states Matt DiBenedetto  Ford 36.418 1.013 197.704
31 13 united_states Ty Dillon  Chevrolet 36.564 1.159 196.915
32 72 united_states Corey Lajoie  Chevrolet 37.030 1.625 194.437
33 15 united_states Ross Chastain  Chevrolet 37.081 1.676 194.170
34 23 united_states Gray Gaulding  Toyota 37.374 1.969 192.647
35 51 united_states B.J. McLeod  Chevrolet 37.484 2.079 192.082
36 00 united_states Landon Cassill  Chevrolet 37.608 2.203 191.449
37 7 canada D.J. Kennington  Chevrolet 38.319 2.914 187.896
38 66 united_states Timmy Hill  Toyota 38.617 3.212 186.446
39 99 united_states Garrett Smithley  Chevrolet 38.618 3.213 186.442
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About this article

Series NASCAR Cup
Event Michigan
Location Michigan International Speedway
Drivers Kurt Busch
Teams Stewart-Haas Racing
Author Jim Utter