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Kahne wins pole at 'stupid fast' repaved Kansas

October 19, 2012, NASCAR Wire Service, NASCAR.com



Kahne wins pole at 'stupid fast' repaved Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Kasey Kahne broke the Kansas Speedway qualifying record in winning the pole for Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400, the sixth race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Then again, everyone else who turned a lap in Friday's time trials also topped the old record on the smooth, fresh asphalt at the 1.5-mile intermediate track.

Kansas Lineup

Top 5
Pos.DriverSpeedTime
2. M. Martin 191.238 28.237
3. C. Bowyer 191.130 28.253
4. Ky. Busch 191.096 28.258
5. A. Almirola 190.988 28.274
Pos.DriverSpeedTime
3. C. Bowyer 191.130 28.253
7. J. Johnson 190.840 28.296
9. D. Hamlin 190.718 28.314
10. K. Harvick 190.409 28.360
11. G. Biffle 190.389 28.363
12. M. Kenseth 190.376 28.365
16. M. Truex Jr. 189.940 28.430
19. J. Gordon 189.520 28.493
25. B. Keselowski 188.772 28.606
33. T. Stewart 187.859 28.745

Kahne toured the speedway in 28.219 seconds (191.360 mph) to edge second-place qualifier Mark Martin (191.238 mph) by .018 seconds. The Coors Light Pole Award was Kahne's fourth of the season, the 26th of his career and his third at Kansas, tying him for most all time with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson.

* Out Front with Miss Coors Light: Rachel and Kasey

Clint Bowyer, who like Kahne hopes to gain ground on the top three drivers in the Chase -- Brad Keselowski, Johnson and Denny Hamlin -- grabbed the third starting spot with a lap at 191.130 mph. Kyle Busch (191.096 mph) qualified fourth, followed by Aric Almirola (190.988 mph).

You could argue, of course, that breaking a record doesn't mean all that much on a repaved, reconfigured surface -- in essence, a new race track.

What made the drivers pay attention, however, were the breathtaking speeds they achieved in topping Matt Kenseth's old mark of 29.858 seconds (180.856 mph) from Oct. 8, 2005. On a cool, blustery afternoon, defending Cup champion Tony Stewart said the cars were running "stupid fast."

And on a track where the second groove is not yet established and track position is at a premium, Kahne (fifth in the standings) has the opportunity to make a dent in his 35-point deficit to Keselowski, who qualified 25th. The same can be said of fourth-place Bowyer, who trails Keselowski by 28 points.

"I think it can be a pretty big [opportunity]," Kahne said. "I think those guys [Keselowski and crew chief Paul Wolfe] will really figure out how to go fast in race trim. That's what they've done all season long. They haven't qualified great, really, this whole year, but they know how to race, and with strategy they'll figure out how to get to the front if they're fast enough to stay up there.

"You know you'll see the No. 2 car at some point. They've shown that all season long. But for ourselves, we have a great starting spot, a great pit stall -- a lot of things from [Friday] will help us throughout the entire race, not just the start of the race. So, yeah, I feel really good about where we're at, and if we can capitalize and make the right decisions and get the right balance in the car, we can gain some points."

Both Johnson (seven points behind Keselowski) and Hamlin (15 back) scored top-10 starting positions, with Johnson seventh on the grid and Hamlin ninth.

Cole Whitt, David Stremme and Josh Wise failed to qualify for the 43-car field. Danica Patrick posted the 41st-fastest qualifying time of the 46 drivers but will start from the back of the field after an engine change on Friday.

Notes-n-Nuggets

• Kasey Kahne scored his 26th career pole in his 320th race.
• Kasey Kahne scored his third pole at Kansas (11th race), tying Jimmie Johnson for most.
• Kasey Kahne scored his fourth pole 2012, tying Mark Martin for most, and second in three races; it's the third time in his career he won four poles in a year.
• Kasey Kahne scored his 11th pole on a 1.5-mile track.
• Five of Kasey Kahne's 14 career wins have been from the pole.
• Kasey Kahne's pole-winning time of 28.219 seconds (191.360 mph) set a track record; it's the eighth track record set in 2012.
• Hendrick Motorsports scored its 187th career pole.
• Hendrick Motorsports scored his fifth pole at Kansas and ninth of 2012, both most of all organizations.
• Chevrolet scored its seventh pole at Kansas and 12th of 2012, both most of all makes.
• Mark Martin (second) posted his sixth front-row start in 21 races this season, including his past two starts.
• Clint Bowyer (third) posted his fourth consecutive top-four start of 2012.
• Kyle Busch (fourth) posted his fourth top-10 start in the past five races.
• Aric Almirola (fifth) posted his seventh top-10 start of the season and best Kansas start in his second race.
• All 46 drivers who attempted to qualify broke the previous track record.

Regan Smith, subbing for Dale Earnhardt Jr. (out because of a concussion), got loose in the first turn of his first qualifying lap and lost momentum, ending up 39th on the starting grid. Stewart will start 33rd, the deepest in the field of the Chase drivers