News & Media

Kenseth's pole run eases Edwards' Sunday start

November 12, 2011, Sporting News Wire Service,

AVONDALE, Ariz. -- Matt Kenseth did his teammate a favor.

In winning the pole of Sunday's Kobalt Tools 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, Kenseth -- the next-to-last driver to make a qualifying attempt on Saturday -- moved Roush Fenway Racing teammate Carl Edwards from eighth to ninth in the starting order.

That's a boon to Chase leader Edwards, who will start on the much more manageable inside row, whereas Tony Stewart, three points behind Edwards, will start eighth, but on the outside where the grip is tenuous at best.

Kenseth toured the repaved, reconfigured one-mile track in 26.258 seconds (137.101 mph) to edge AJ Allmendinger (136.446 mph) for the Coors Light pole award, Kenseth's third of the season and the seventh of his career.

Marcos Ambrose (136.307 mph), Allmendinger's teammate at Richard Petty Motorsports, qualified third, followed by Mark Martin and Martin Truex Jr., who ran identical speeds (136.080 mph).

Conditions for qualifying were radically different from practice sessions a day earlier. On Friday, under a cloudy sky, most of the field ran faster than Edwards' qualifying record of 137.279 mph, set in February.


• Matt Kenseth scored his third pole of 2011, the most he has ever had in a single season; he has seven in 435 career starts.
• Matt Kenseth scored his sixth front-row start of 2011, including three of the past five races.
• Matt Kenseth's previous best start at Phoenix was fourth in April 2006; it's his only other top-five start at PIR.
• Matt Kenseth is the 19th different driver to win a pole in the 31 races at Phoenix.
• Matt Kenseth has one win from the pole (Bristol in August 2005).
• Matt Kenseth Was second-fastest in first practice with a time of 25.728 seconds (139.925 mph); he was 38th in final practice (26.251 seconds / 137.138 mph).
• Roush Fenway Racing scored its fourth pole at Phoenix and 10th of the season, most of all teams.
• Ford scored its 10th pole at Phoenix, and 10th of 2011.
• A.J. Allmendinger (second) posted his fourth front-row start of the season; he has started on the front row in three of the past four Phoenix races.
• Marcos Ambrose (third) posted his best Phoenix start in his seventh race.
• Mark Martin (fourth) posted his eighth top-five start of 2011.
• Martin Truex Jr (fifth) posted his best start since his pole at Dover in September; he has finished in the top 10 in his past three races.
• Jamie McMurray (sixth) posted his best start since his second-place start at Richmond in September.
• Tony Stewart (eighth) posted his 10th top-10 start of 2011, including four in the past five races
• Carl Edwards (ninth) posted his seventh consecutive top-10 start of the season.
• Cole Whitt (19th) is making his Cup Series debut.
• Three drivers failed to make the race: Scott Riggs, David Stremme and Andy Lally.

With the sun out on Saturday, and the track considerably hotter, drivers ran roughly a full second slower on average than they had Friday.