News & Media

Kahne wins Darlington pole with record lap

May 07, 2011, Sporting News Wire Service,

DARLINGTON, S.C. -- With a lightning-fast lap at track-record speed, Kasey Kahne won the pole for Saturday night's Showtime Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

Touring the 1.366-mile circuit at 181.254 mph (27.131 seconds), Kahne shattered the qualifying record of 180.370 mph set last year by Jamie McMurray. The pole was Kahne's first of the season and the 21st of his Cup Series career.

Showtime Southern 500

2.Ryan NewmanChevrolet
3.Denny HamlinToyota
4.Carl EdwardsFord
5.Jeff GordonChevrolet

Ryan Newman qualified second at 180.429 mph, followed by Denny Hamlin (180.132 mph), Carl Edwards (179.980 mph) and seven-time Darlington winner Jeff Gordon (179.829 mph). Marcos Ambrose, A.J. Allmendinger, Brian Vickers, Tony Stewart and Brad Keselowski will start from positions 6-10, respectively.

Starting from the pole is nothing new to Kahne, who qualified first at Darlington in three of his first four visits to the Lady in Black. Finishes are another issue. Kahne's best result at Darlington is a third in 2005, but in the past five races he has fared no better than 20th.

This is Kahne's first Darlington pole, however, since the introduction of NASCAR's new car in 2007.

"We've came pretty close a few times with this car, but we just haven't been quite as fast," Kahne said. "I think the first three times we qualified here we were on the pole when I first came into this series [actually three of four].

"I guess I've always just taken to qualifying at this place. I like running right against the wall and carrying the speed and the momentum. We hadn't been quite as fast in a couple years and [Friday] we were really fast. It was great. The lap felt awesome. I knew we definitely had a good chance at the pole when I made the lap."

Newman was fastest in an abbreviated Cup practice session and hence the last of the drivers locked into the race to make a qualifying attempt. The sun came out late in the session, however, and the warmer track may have minimized the advantage of Newman's late draw.

"I didn't know what we would pick up with the sun coming out," Newman said. "...The [car] was good off the truck and was good in qualifying. We got a good starting spot and good pit selection. We'll just try to do our best for [Saturday]."


• This is Kasey Kahne's 21st Career Cup pole in his 262nd start.
• Darlington is the second track on the schedule that Kasey Kahne holds the track qualifying record. He also holds it at Pocono.
• Kasey Kahne has 11 Cup wins, five of them from the pole.
• Kasey Kahne is the eighth different pole winner in 10 Cup races this season.
• This is Kasey Kahne's fourth pole at Darlington in his ninth race. He has posted seven top-10 starts in his nine Darlington races.
• Ryan Newman (second) has started 12th or better in 11 of his 13 Darlington races. This is his fifth front-row start at Darlington.
• Denny Hamlin (third) posted his fourth top-10 start in six Darlington races.
• Carl Edwards (fourth) matched his best Darlington start (May '07).
• Jeff Gordon (fifth) has posted top-10 starts in the past five Darlington races -- the longest current streak. Gordon has started 14th or better in his past 20 Darlington starts.
• Marcos Ambrose (sixth) has started in the top-10 in all three of his Darlington races.

Scott Riggs, Andy Lally and Brian Keselowski failed to qualify for the 43-car field.