Kansas Speedway may be becoming Matt Kenseth’s favorite track.
After winning last fall at Kansas Speedway, Kenseth became the surprise of qualifying at Kansas Speedway, capturing the pole for Sunday’s STP 400 with a new track record of 191.864 mph. This is Kenseth’s ninth NASCAR Spring Cup Series pole and his first pole of 2013. Today’s qualifying effort earned him his second pole in 15 races at Kansas Speedway.
The previous track record of 191.360 mph was set Oct. 21, 2012 by Kasey Kahne and was broken by each of the top four qualifiers for Sunday’s race.
Kenseth described today’s qualifying effort as his “most exciting pole by far.”
“I didn’t think we had a chance of sitting on it (the pole), really, and it’s probably the fastest track we go to all year,” Kenseth said. “I just wasn’t really expecting it. We thought about it a lot, we talked about a lot, and the guys made some great changes and picked up a tenth and a half.”
Carl Edwards in the #99 Ford qualified second, giving him his fourth top 10 start in 12 races at Kansas Speedway.
“I had the pole there for a few minutes, about five minutes, felt really good,” Edwards said. “But we got a late starting spot, so good lap. I hope our car’s as fast in race trim.”
Edwards, who is from Columbia, Missouri, said of qualifying on the front row, “We’ve talked about it a lot, but a win here would be huge. And this is a heck of a start.”
Speaking of local drivers, Clint Bowyer qualified 10th and Jamie McMurray qualified 14th.
Rookie Ricky Stenhouse Jr. qualified third, giving him his first top-10 start at Kansas Speedway and making him the fastest qualifying rookie. Stenhouse Jr. said he has been fast since the car was unloaded.
“It was good,” Stenhouse Jr. said of his lap. “We were hoping to back up what we ran in practice.”
Kenseth, who won four poles in his first 11 seasons and five in his last two seasons, attributed his recent improvement at qualifying to “faster cars,” among other things. Still Edwards said that he did not believe Kenseth would win the pole prior to qualifying.
“No, I didn’t think Matt (Kenseth) would be a factor, but he somehow pulled it out at the end,” Edwards said. “That was a really good job by him.”
Stenhouse Jr. seemed less surprised at Kenseth’s pole.
“They’ve been fast all year, so I don’t think you can count him out really anywhere you go these days” Stenhouse Jr. said.
The STP 400 starts at Noon on Sunday and tickets are still available. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series SFP 250 is at 1 p.m. on Saturday, but on-track action starts at 9 AM with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice. Tickets are available.
Parking is always free at Kansas Speedway and fans can bring in one 14x14x14-inch soft-sided cooler with their favorite food and beverages.
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