DOVER, Del. — A sudden rain shower in the afternoon of an otherwise dry day soaked the concrete racing surface at Dover International Speedway and forced cancelation of Friday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series knockout qualifying session.
As a consequence, with the field set according to owner points, Kyle Busch will lead the 39 Cup drivers to the green flag in Sunday’s Gander Outdoors 400 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) at the Monster Mile, the opening race in the Round of 12 of the NASCAR Playoffs.
Kevin Harvick will start on the outside of the front row, and the remaining 10 playoff contenders will line up in owner-points order on Rows 2 through 6.
Busch thought the rainout was a net positive for his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing team, in terms of potential spots gained.
“Probably six or eight spots or so, I believe,” Busch said. “It definitely bodes well for us. I thought we had a decent car in practice, the way that it felt — it felt pretty good. It just didn’t show the speed on the speed chart.
“But as practice was going on, and guys were making their second and third runs, they were kind of coming back to us in lap times, where our car was really consistent over the run and running the same lap times …
“It certainly better for us not to have to go out there and bust off a really fast lap. Speeds were way high here this morning (in practice). With cooler temperatures, it seemed like it was going to be way fast.”
Martin Truex Jr. will start from the third spot next to Brad Keselowski. Only 15 points separate fifth-place starter Clint Bowyer from 12th-place Alex Bowman, with the next three races set to determine the drivers who will advance to the Round of 8.
Busch, on the other hand, has a 47-point edge over ninth-place Chase Elliott, who was fourth fastest in Friday’s opening practice behind Kyle Larson (10th in the playoff standings), Harvick and Kurt Busch (seventh).
NASCAR also postponed Friday afternoon’s scheduled K&N Pro Series East Race until 9 a.m. ET Saturday.