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Busch overcomes practice spin for Kansas pole

June 11, 2011, The Associated Press, NASCAR.com

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Kurt Busch had never run all that well in Kansas, and a spinout during practice Friday certainly didn't make it look as if he was about to turn that around.

Less than 24 hours and a few tweaks later, Busch captured the pole for the Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway and reversed a decade of tough luck at the 1.5-mile track.

Kansas

Lineup
Pos.DriverSpeedTime
2.J. Montoya 174.154 31.007
3.Ky. Busch 174.081 31.020
4.B. Vickers 173.992 31.036
5.J. Logano 173.852 31.061

Busch, who had never started higher than seventh in 10 career starts in Kansas and has never finished in the top five, topped the leaderboard at 174.752 mph in his No. 22 Dodge on Saturday.

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Busch snapped out of an extended funk with a fourth-place finish last week in Charlotte. He had to have front end damage repaired following Friday's spin, and that and other changes helped produce his first pole since Michigan last June and the 13th of his career.

"I have to thank my guys for standing behind me, not just through [Friday] but through some of the tough times we've been through as of late," Busch said. "It's an amazing world, the world of motorsports. One day you're down, the next day you're up."

Juan Montoya will start second in Sunday's race, followed by Kyle Busch and Brian Vickers.

Joey Logano qualified fifth, giving Toyota three cars in the top five.

"A lot better than we expected," Kyle Busch said. "The guys did a good job with it and gave me a good piece to run a good lap. That's all we can ask for. We've been having sort of a struggle this weekend so far and trying to make something out of nothing here."

Jamie McMurray, who grew up in nearby Joplin, Mo., and visited the tornado-ravaged town Thursday, will start sixth.

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Cup points leader Carl Edwards, also a Missouri native, will start seventh -- the highest of any of the Fords in the field.

"I'm not going to tell you exactly what I did wrong, but I know it was something," Edwards said. "I think we are going to have a really good shot at this race and that would mean a lot to me."

Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s momentum after a gut-wrenching but promising second-place finish at Charlotte stalled with a qualifying run of 28th. Jimmie Johnson, who beat Edwards to win here in 2008, will start 31st -- by far his worst starting position at Kansas.

Sunday's race will mark the midway point of the Cup's regular season, and three drivers hovering around the edges of the Chase championship standings are hoping to become the first three-time winner at Kansas.

Tony Stewart (13th), Greg Biffle (14th) and Jeff Gordon (22nd) all have a pair of wins at Kansas -- but none of them will start in the top 10.

Gordon, who took Kansas's first two races in 2001-02, has seven top-five finishes at the track and four in a row.

Biffle took first in 2007, won again last fall in a Chase event and has the best driver rating of any driver at Kansas, ahead of Johnson. Stewart won Kansas in 2006 and '09.

Of course, the way this season has gone almost anyone has a realistic shot at a win. Just five of the 12 winners in the Cup series so far this season have started from 20th or better.

This is the first summer Cup race on the schedule for Kansas, which added an event for 2011. Drivers expect the track to be hot and slick for Sunday's race, which will start shortly past noon local time.

Notes-n-Nuggets

• Kurt Busch scored his 13th career pole in his 377th start.
• Kurt Busch is the eighth different pole winner in 11 races at Kansas.
• Two races have been won from the pole at Kanas: Joe Nemechek (2004), Jimmie Johnson ('08).
• Kurt Busch is the 10th different pole winner of 2011.
• Kurt Busch has one win from the pole: Homestead (2002).
• Kurt Busch was the 39th-fastest driver in practice (he spun through the infield grass); he picked up 1.465 seconds from practice.
• Kurt Busch's past four wins have come on 1.5 mile tracks.
• Penske Racing scored its 94th career pole, first at Kansas and second in 2011 (Charlotte last week).
• A Dodge has one win at Kansas: Ryan Newman (2003).
• Juan Montoya (second) posted his third top-10 start of 2011, all on the front row.
• Kyle Busch (third) has only one top-10 finish in seven Kansas starts (seventh in 2006).
• Brian Vickers (fourth) posted his third top-10 start of 2011.
• Joey Logano (fifth) posted his eighth top-10 start of 2011; he was the fastest driver in combined practices.
• Five of the 10 Kansas races have been won from the top 10.
• Scott Riggs (36th), Patrick Carpentier (40th) and Johnny Sauter (41st) will make their first start of 2011.
• Worst start of a Kansas winner: 21st, Tony Stewart (2006).
• Two drivers failed to qualify: Tony Raines and T.J. Bell.

The track will host its traditional fall race on Oct. 9.