Redemption As Kenseth Gets Richmond Pole

Matt Kenseth will start from the pole during Saturday's Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond (Va.) Int'l Raceway. (HHP/Christa L. Thomas Photo)
Matt Kenseth will start from the pole during Saturday’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond (Va.) Int’l Raceway. (HHP/Christa L. Thomas Photo)

RICHMOND, Va. – It was right back to business for Matt Kenseth Friday at Richmond Int’l Raceway.

Kenseth, still reeling from the massive penalties handed out by NASCAR following his victory at Kansas Speedway last weekend when a connecting rod in his engine was deemed too light, qualified on the pole for Saturday’s Toyota Owners 400 with a track record lap of 20.716 seconds at 130.334 mph.

The pole once again qualifies Kenseth for the pre-season Sprint Unlimited at Daytona Int’l Speedway next February. Kenseth originally qualified for the Sprint Unlimited after winning the pole last weekend at Kansas, but NASCAR stripped Kenseth of that pole after his car’s engine failed post-race inspection.

“I’ve said it a million times, but this is just a really special group and I’m a really lucky guy to be driving it (the No. 20),” Kenseth said. “Really proud of these guys. After practice I didn’t think we had a prayer of sitting on the pole. One of my goals this week with everything going on was to go sit on the pole and maybe that would quiet things down a little bit.”

Brian Vickers, driving the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in place of injured driver Denny Hamlin, qualified second with a 20.721-second lap. Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne and Clint Bowyer completed the top five in qualifying at the .75-mile oval.

Juan Pablo Montoya, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and Mark Martin filled the top 10. Point leader Jimmie Johnson qualified 26th.

There were only 43 cars at the track on Friday, so there were no cars that failed to qualify.