HAMPTON, Ga. – Kurt Busch will start from the pole for Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway after the car of his younger brother and reigning series champion Kyle Busch failed post-qualifying technical inspection.
The younger Busch was fastest in the final round of qualifying with a 28.925-second lap at 191.668 mph. That was just fast enough to best Kurt Busch’s 29.938-second lap that clocked in at 191.582 mph.
“It feels really good. I’m just real proud of all these guys on this M&M’s team. They gave me a really fast Camry,” Kyle Busch said before his car failed post-qualifying technical inspection. “This is a place that is a lot of fun for the drivers and a lot of hard times that you kind of have being able to get grip here. To work with your crew chief as well as you can and to be able to get a good starting spot for Sunday, that helps and good pit selection obviously. But 500 miles here is entirely different than one fast lap around Atlanta.”
NASCAR did not release the reason Kyle Busch’s car failed post-qualifying inspection, but his crew chief Adam Stevens later said their was too much rear toe in the car.
“The parts move – everything moves – so you expect it to be a little bit different, but this is the first opportunity we’ve had to gather post information was right now and it’s game time and it was too much,” said Stevens. “We were perfectly legal beforehand, which obviously or we wouldn’t have qualified and just the amount of load on the track moves everything a little bit and that little bit was a little bit too much.”
Kyle Busch will start last in the 39-car field on Sunday afternoon.
Kurt Busch was in the top five in each qualifying session on Friday and said he hopes that will translate to a consistent car on race day.
“It was a good, consistent car and I hope that translates into race speed as well,” Kurt Busch said before finding out he would start from the pole. “It is a matter of preparing the best car during the off season to come to these mile and a halfs early and see what you’ve got.
“It is just great to feel this right away with the speed and the energy from the car,” Kurt Busch said. “We’ll just try to capitalize and beat that 18. He got us by just a little bit. I know I was a little tight out there on both ends of the race track.”
Jamie McMurray will start second in a Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. The surprise of qualifying was Trevor Bayne, who was fast in every session and ended the day by qualifying third.
Ryan Newman qualified fourth, followed by Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, Austin Dillon, Martin Truex Jr., Brian Scott and Kasey Kahne.
Kyle Busch was fastest in the first round of qualifying, putting his No. 18 Toyota at the top of the charts with a 28.681-second lap at 193.299 mph. Bayne was second, followed by Kyle Larson, Kurt Busch and Edwards.
Among those failing to advance past the first round of qualifying were Daytona 500 polesitter Chase Elliott and Team Penske’s Joey Logano.
McMurray was quickest in round two of qualifying with a 28.900-second lap at 191.834 mph. Kurt Busch was second quickest, followed Dillon, Edwards and Newman.
A number of top drivers failed to advance to the final round of qualifying, including Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson and Larson, who was third fastest in the first round of qualifying.
Only 39 cars took time on Friday, meaning they will all start Sunday’s race.