Miss Coors Light , Amanda Mertz, talks with AJ Allmendinger after he captured his first pole of the 2015 season.
Kevin Harvick will also start from the front row in Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400 RELATED: Full qualifying results " See the 43-car lineup BROOKLYN, Mich. – Kevin Harvick had his sights set on a clean sweep of knockout qualifying at Michigan International Speedway —until Kasey Kahne had other ideas late in Friday’s final round. Kahne sped around the two-mile track in 35.645 seconds (201.992 mph) to knock Harvick off the pole for Sunday's Quicken Loans 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race (1 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM). Harvick, who posted a 201.613 mph lap in the final session, had topped the charts in the first two rounds, matching Kahne's pole-winning time in the second. The Coors Light Pole Award was Kahne's first of the season and the 27th of his career—but his first since the October 2012 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway . Brad Keselowski (201.449 mph) qualified third, followed by Carl Edwards (201.067 mph) and Ryan Blaney (201.056 mph), who is running a partial schedule in the No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford. With a 2012 repaving project having narrowed the racing groove at Michigan, Kahne underscored the value of starting up front—and staying there. "It's going to be really important," said Kahne, who also gets the benefit of selecting pit stall No. 1., closest to the exit from pit road. "The track is going to change a lot, though, come Sunday, with all the racing going on this weekend and then our practices (on Saturday). "The track will be a lot different Sunday. So, there will be some passing for sure, but it's not going to be easy. So track position will play a big role in being there at the end of the race." Harvick remains the only driver to sweep all three rounds of qualifying at a single track, a feat he accomplished last year at Michigan and Indianapolis, but he fell .067 seconds of doing so for a third time. "I don't know that I got everything out of it (the final lap), but the rounds were within seven hundredths (of a second) of each other, " Harvick said. "The guys were doing a great job, and Kasey just got a little bit better lap there than we did." With possible rain in the forecast, Blaney was nervous as qualifying approached, but not because of the competition. If rain had washed out time trials, the Wood Brothers Racing car would not have made the field, based on fewest qualifying attempts this season—a product of a limited schedule. "It was funny the way it played out," Blaney said. "It looked like two cells coming at us (on the radar), and a small slit in the middle of them, and we passed right through that slit. That was just kind of lucky for us. "Like I said, it would have stung knowing how good of a car we had in practice if qualifying rained out. We're fortunate to get it in, and it's a bonus to have a good race car." Brendan Gaughan , who unlike Blaney would have benefited from a rainout, failed to make the 43-car field.
Amanda Mertz catches up with Kasey Kahne after he captures his first Coors Light Pole Award of the season and first since Kansas Speedway in 2012.
Carl Edwards starts on front row in Sunday's Axalta 'We Paint Winners' 400 RELATED: Starting lineup LONG POND, Pa. -- NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying can be fraught with twists, turns and unexpected bumps in the road. Friday's qualifying session at Pocono Raceway , which saw Kurt Busch capture the Coors Light Pole for Sunday's Axalta 'We Paint Winners' 400 had them all. Throughout the day, Turn 2 -- the Tunnel Turn -- had been a major topic of concern. "There are grocery store parking lots around the country that are jealous of those three bumps that have developed there," said Busch, speculating that an offseason beautification project with water feature, enhancing the exterior tunnel entry, somehow created the lumpy racing surface. "To me, if they could just go ahead and take some bumps like that and put them over in the other corners too, it would be even better," said Carl Edwards . "It adds something. As long as it's not breaking parts, I believe it gives us an opportunity to setup passes." Ultimately, the issue with the bumpy track took a back seat when Denny Hamlin spun in Turn 1 in the final minute of qualifying, halting the session with 39 seconds remaining and preventing himself and four other drivers from posting a time in the final round. "It really is a bizarre set of circumstances," said Jimmie Johnson , a winner of four races this season but one of the drivers left in the qualifying cold. "It's just unfortunate (for) the guys that were on the track. But as long as NASCAR is consistent (with the rule) through all three series, then we will take our medicine and just deal with it. We (start) ninth. That is the best we've been in a while. Joey Logano , the last driver not from Hendrick Motorsports to win at Pocono, was not so forgiving. Logano said he already had a ‘headache' thanks to the bumps -- and that was before his lap in progress was negated by Hamlin's spin. "A car spins out and they throw a red flag for it and then you don't get an opportunity to go out and make a lap," Logano said. "I don't understand it. It makes me mad. I don't get it. We didn't even have a chance to try to put our car up front." Busch suggested that Pocono Raceway attempt to grind the bumps prior to Sunday's race. Earnhardt was encouraged that Pocono Raceway CEO Brandon Igdalsky was not only aware of the situation, but planning to take action before the Sprint Cup Series returns in late July. "I feel like they understand that while we can probably get through this weekend with what's back there right now, it's probably not in their best interest to leave it as-is," Earnhardt said. "It will continue to get worse and I don't think that we can get our race cars through there if it gets much worse than it is." Carl Edwards finished second in qualifying. "My plan with Denny ( Joe Gibbs Racing teammate) almost worked out," Edwards joked. "But he didn't spin early enough to keep Kurt from catching me." Martin Truex Jr . qualified third in the Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet, unaware that the session had been cut short but well aware of the challenges in Turn 2. "It's wild," he said. "The first time through there, I thought either our car was way off or there's something wrong with the race track. The bumps are 10 times bigger than they were last year, which is crazy. You're going across bumps that are 8-10 inches tall and, literally, the tires are coming off the ground." Jeff Gordon qualified fourth and series leader Kevin Harvick , who posted the fastest lap in each of the first two qualifying sessions, was fifth. Kyle Busch and Kasey Kahne were the other drivers who were burned by Hamlin's spin, having waited too long to attempt a lap in the five-minute session. Kurt Busch noted during practice that he was losing speed in Turns 1 and 3 and elected to focus on the vast majority of the course, not the troubles in Turn 2. His team also overcame a "wrong gear ratio in the transmission in third gear." "There was so much disconnect when we first got here," said Busch, whose third pole of the season was the 19th of his career. "We had to drop back, reboot with (crew chief) Tony Gibson, (engineer) Johnny Klausmeier, the whole gang. Today was a big group-bonding day and a strength-building day on what this No. 41 team can do together." With 43 race entries, all drivers qualified for Sunday's race. Tony Stewart , mired in 28th in the point standings, was forced to a backup car after a crash coming out of the Tunnel Turn in the 36th minute of Friday's practice session. Stewart was 28th in the first round of qualifying and failed to advance. "Driver error," said Stewart, who has managed just one top-10 finish this season. "I was already past the bump. I got loose on the exit (of the turn) and couldn't catch it."
Fourth XFINITY Series pole of the season for 2013 champion RELATED: Full starting lineup Austin Dillon won the Coors Light Pole Award for the NASCAR XFINITY Series Hisense 300 on Saturday (2:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1, PRN, SiriusXM), turning a lap of 184.615 mph around the 1.5-mile oval at Charlotte Motor Speedway . The No. 33 Richard Childress Racing will be on the pole, sharing the front row with Darrell Wallace, Jr. The No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford led the first round of qualifying with a speed of 183.968 mph and finished the final round of qualifying with a lap at 184.395 mph. This is the fourth pole of the season for Dillon, who won from the top spot in Las Vegas in March. Brian Scott will start third in the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet (183.799 mph); Denny Hamlin starts fourth in the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota (183.536 mph); and Kyle Larson rounded out the top five with a lap of 183.474 mph in the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Chevrolet. Chad Boat lost control and spun out through the grass during XFINITY Series qualifying. The incident was almost identicial to Boat's wreck in the No. 84 Billy Boat Motrosports Chevrolet during Thursday's practice for the Hisense 300 .
Buescher seals 1-2 Roush sweep in Dover XFINITY qualifying RELATED: Qualifying results Darrell Wallace Jr . sped to the Coors Light Pole Award in Saturday qualifying for the NASCAR XFINITY Series at Dover International Speedway . Wallace drove the Roush Fenway Racing No. 6 Ford to a fast lap of 153.991 mph, securing the top starting spot for Saturday's Buckle Up 200 presented by Click It or Ticket (2:30 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM). The pole position was Wallace's first of the season and second of his XFINITY career -- both coming at the Monster Mile. Series points leader Chris Buescher , Wallace's Roush Fenway teammate, will share the front row after posting the second-fastest lap, 153.886 mph in the No. 60 Ford. Buescher, who also notched the fastest lap in the opening 20-minute round of qualifying, holds a four-point lead in the XFINITY standings over Ty Dillon heading into the 12th of 33 races this season. Sprint Cup Series regular Matt Kenseth was third-fastest at 153.715 mph in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota. Rookie Daniel Suarez was fourth-best in another Gibbs entry while Richard Childress Racing 's Brian Scott completed the top five in qualifying on the 1-mile concrete track. Defending series champion Chase Elliott posted the 14th-fastest lap in Round 2, just missing out on the 12-driver cutoff for the final qualifying round. "Not going fast enough, just as simple as that," Elliott told FOX Sports 1 after his qualifying pass. With 40 cars vying for 40 starting spots, no drivers failed to qualify. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Joe Gibbs Racing driver edges Truex in Monster Mile qualifying RELATED: Full qualifying results Denny Hamlin rolled to the Coors Light Pole Award in Friday afternoon's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying at Dover International Speedway . Hamlin drove the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota to a fast lap of 160.121 mph on the 1-mile concrete oval. He'll start first in Sunday's FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM). The pole position was Hamlin's first of the season, third at the Monster Mile and 21st of his Sprint Cup career. The pole-winning lap was significantly slower than the track qualifying record of 164.444 mph set by Brad Keselowski in May. "It's great," said Hamlin, who also won the Dover pole in September 2012 and May 2013. "Obviously our car's shown speed all day long, which is something that we haven't had lately, so we're kind of building and getting a little bit better and starting to figure out our setups and whatnot. So we're getting better and obviously this kind of shows it." Martin Truex Jr ., second in the Sprint Cup standings, will share Sunday's front row in the Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Chevrolet after notching the second-fastest lap at 159.723 mph. Kyle Larson , Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano completed the top five. Defending Sprint Cup champion and current points leader Kevin Harvick qualified sixth-fastest in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet. Kyle Busch , making just his second start of the season in points-paying races since returning from serious leg injuries in a February crash at Daytona, earned the 10th starting spot in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota. Some big names were left out of later qualifying rounds at the two elimination stages in the three-round format. Jimmie Johnson , a nine-time Dover winner in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet, was among them. After leading opening Sprint Cup practice earlier in the day, he posted just the 14th-fastest lap in Round 2, failing to make the final cut to determine the top 12 starters. "I think, in a sense, we maybe didn't make the changes we need to or thought we needed to change, because the car had so much speed in that first practice session, but it's a totally different race track," Johnson said. "And we tried to plan ahead and made some small changes, but it wasn't enough." Kurt Busch was also in that unfortunate group, making just the 13th-best lap to miss the cut for the final, five-minute round. Keselowski was the final driver to make the cut after Round 1, edging Kasey Kahne by .005 seconds for the 24th spot. The Team Penske driver ended up qualifying 19th. Three-time Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart also just missed the cut, posting the 26th-fastest lap. Jeff Green and Travis Kvapil failed to qualify for the 43-car field. Sprint Cup drivers will have their final chance to tune up for Sunday's 400-miler in a pair of practice sessions Saturday (10-10:55 a.m. ET and 1-1:55 p.m. ET, FS1). FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Miss Coors Light Amanda Mertz talks with Denny Hamlin after he wins his first Coors Light Pole Award of 2015 at Dover International Speedway.
Joey Logano will also start from the front row in Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 RELATED: Full starting lineup " See all 43 cars CONCORD, N.C. – After powering to his second pole of the season on Thursday night, Matt Kenseth will start NASCAR's longest race from the most advantageous position—with his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota getting serviced in the most advantageous pit stall. Kenseth ran his fastest lap of the night (194.252 mph) in the third and final round of knockout qualifying at Charlotte Motor Speedway and secured the top spot on the grid for Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 (6 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN, SiriusXM), the 12th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race of the season. The Coors Light Pole Award was Kenseth's first at Charlotte and the 15th of his career. Kenseth, who covered the 1.5-mile distance in 27.799 seconds, was a whopping .204 seconds faster than Joey Logano (192.836 mph), whose No. 22 Team Penske Ford will start beside Kenseth's Camry on the front row. "I think starting up front is important at this track," Kenseth said. "It typically goes through a lot of changes here, especially if the sun is out for the beginning of the race. You want to have good track position, good pit selection—all those things—so if you get a little bit off and you're chasing the setup, or the track changes, you have a little bit of a buffer being toward the front, hopefully... "All the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas had some speed tonight, and that was encouraging." SHOP: Kenseth gear Carl Edwards (192.733 mph) was third in his No. 19 JGR Toyota, followed by Greg Biffle in his No. 16 Roush Fenway Ford (192.226 mph) and NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race winner Denny Hamlin in his No. 11 JGR Toyota (192.007 mph). Surprisingly, in consecutive seasons that have seen domination of the intermediate speedways by the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Chevrolet of reigning series champion Kevin Harvick and the No. 48 Chevy of six-time champ Jimmie Johnson , Toyotas and Fords claimed the top seven qualifying positions for the 600. To Logano, however, the absence of a Chevrolet from the top five spots on the grid for the first time this season isn't hugely significant. "Those guys have been fast in the race—that's where their speed really shines," Logano said. "They qualify good--don't get me wrong—but in the race they shine a little bit more. You're talking about the 4, the 41 ( Kurt Busch ) and the 48. Those are the ones that stand out. "And I'm sure they'll be fast when it comes to race time. Qualifying's a different animal. You use a completely different setup, and qualifying can kind of mask over some issues you have in race trim a lot of times. ... I wouldn't (read) too much into it." Notes: All four Hendrick Motorsports entries failed to advance to the final round of knockout qualifying, but Kasey Kahne had a valid excuse. A cut tire prevented him from posting a quick qualifying laps. As a result, the three-time winner of the Coca-Cola 600 will start 33rd on Sunday ... Jeb Burton , Mike Bliss , Travis Kvapil , Jeff Green and Brendan Gaughan failed to make the 43-car field. The 48-car turnout for qualifying was the largest since 49 entries showed up for the season-opening Daytona 500 .
Miss Coors Light , Amanda Mertz, talks with Kurt Busch after he takes the pole for the Axalta 'We Paint Winners' 400 at Pocono Raceway.