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Rainout puts Busch on Kentucky Cup pole

July 08, 2011, Sporting News Wire Service, NASCAR.com

SPARTA, Ky. -- New rules set lineup on final practice speeds; Waltrip among five forced to go home

When a sudden rain shower interrupted and then washed out Sprint Cup qualifying Friday at Kentucky Speedway, Kyle Busch inherited the pole position for Saturday night's Quaker State 400 as the fastest driver in Friday's practice.

The field for the inaugural Cup race at the 1.5-mile track was set according to NASCAR's rainout rules, with the starting order established by speeds in final practice. Under that format, Juan Montoya will take the green flag next to Busch, on the outside of the front row.

Quaker State 400

Lineup
Pos.DriverMake
2.Juan MontoyaChevrolet
3.Kurt BuschDodge
4.Kasey KahneToyota
5.Jimmie JohnsonChevrolet

Kurt Busch, Kyle's brother, will start third in his No. 22 Penske Dodge.

All told, 22 cars had made qualifying attempts before the storm arrived. Brian Vickers was at the top of the board, but with qualifying rained out, the times of all 22 drivers were washed out with the time trial session.

Though he didn't know it at the time, Kyle Busch locked up the top starting spot -- and the first pick of pit stalls that goes with it -- by running 182.803 mph (29.540 seconds) in final practice. That lap was .049 seconds faster than Montoya's (182.500 mph). Kurt Busch posted a fastest lap time of 29.614 seconds (182.346 mph) in final practice.

"We had a really good car, we unloaded well -- been fast much of the weekend," Kyle Busch said. "I wish we could have run the lap and put it on the pole, for sure, but with the way the weather is, we just took it off the practice speeds we had earlier.

"I look forward to starting up front and trying to keep good track position -- good pit selection -- and run a strong race."

Kasey Kahne will start fourth Saturday night, followed by Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski, Carl Edwards, David Ragan, Tony Stewart and Paul Menard. Series points leader Kevin Harvick claimed the 19th starting position.

Ragan, who notched his first Cup victory last Saturday at Daytona, was disappointed in the rainout, even though it earned him a top-10 starting position.

"It's a shame qualifying got rained out, but our Ford is fast," Ragan said. "We had a good test session here [Thursday], and we're excited to start in the top 10. Our mile-and-a-half program has really been solid this year, so we're looking forward to the race.

"It's going to be exciting for the fans and everyone being a night race and the first Cup race here. I've raced here a couple times in Truck and Nationwide, so we know how to get around this place."

One significant casualty of the rainout was Michael Waltrip, who came to Kentucky Speedway with a race car honoring his brother, Darrell Waltrip, who was elected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame in June. Because of limited qualifying attempts this season, Waltrip did not make the field for the Cup race in his native state.

Also failing to make the 43-car field under rainout rules were David Stremme, T.J. Bell, David Starr and Robby Gordon.