AUDIO/QUALIFYING: A Tale of Two Busch Brothers; Kurt Earns Atlanta Pole While Kyle DQed in Tech

Jacob Seelman Audio, Featured, NASCAR, Southeast 0 Comments

HAMPTON, Ga. — Report by Race Chaser Online Managing Editor Jacob Seelman — Matt Hazlett/Getty Images for NASCAR photo —

Friday evening’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying session at Atlanta Motor Speedway was the tale of the brothers Busch.

And in the waning moments of the final knockout round, it was younger brother Kyle who got the upper hand — but only for a brief moment.

The defending Sprint Cup champion put up a lap of 28.925 seconds (191.668 mph) in the final minute of qualifying round three — appearing to top older brother Kurt for the Coors Light Pole Award by 13 one-thousandths (0.013) of a second — but after the No. 18 M&Ms 75th Anniversary Toyota failed post-qualifying technical inspection, Kyle Busch’s three round times were disallowed and Kurt Busch became the recipient of his 20th career Sprint Cup pole.

Busch’s laps in all three rounds were within one hundredth (0.01) of a second, but it was his final time of 28.938 seconds (191.582 mph) that ultimately won him prime starting position for Sunday’s Folds of Honor/QuikTrip 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM).

“This was a good consistent car in qualifying and I hope that translates to race speed [on Sunday] as well,” the elder Busch brother said. “I’m just really happy with today’s effort. It’s always interesting going through ten days to two weeks down in Daytona trying to find a little bit of speed here and there, and then having to do everything today that we needed to do everything in 80 minutes. Thankfully we were able to get into a rhythm pretty quickly — I was a little bit tight on both ends of the race track — but we had three solid rounds and now it’s time to dial it in for race trim (on Sunday).”

Following qualifying, it was revealed that the rear toe was askew by 0.15 degrees on the Kyle Busch machine — causing the car to fail NASCAR’s laser inspection system as a result.

Adam Stevens, the crew chief of the No. 18 Toyota, later commented on the issue after his car went through the tech line and the pole was stripped.

“We had too much rear skew – not skew – the toe alignment was wrong. Too much rear toe,” Stevens explained. “The parts move – everything moves – so you expect it to be a little bit different, but this is the first opportunity we’ve had to gather post information … and it was too much. We were perfectly legal beforehand, which obviously [was the case] or we wouldn’t have qualified. Just the amount of load on the track moves everything a little bit and that little bit was a little bit too much.”

By virtue of the disqualification, ‘Rowdy’ will roll off Sunday from the 39th position, while Chip Ganassi Racing’s Jamie McMurray will slide onto the front row and start second. McMurray was fastest in the second knockout round with a top speed of 191.834 mph, but just missed the mark on his pole run.

“When you come to a 1.5-mile track you’ve really got to have things together and I’ve said a lot — these places is where you need to be good,” McMurray said after his last run. “I’m proud of the effort of everyone on the McDonald’s Chevrolet. This was a really solid day for us and I’m optimistic about our chances going into the rest of the weekend.”

Roush Fenway Racing’s Trevor Bayne, whose previous-best qualifying effort at AMS was 29th, had a career day on a non-restrictor plate track — rolling off third (29.181/189.987) on Sunday with a run that he called “a huge motivator.”

“This [kind of a performance] comes as a result of a lot of hard work by all the guys at Roush Fenway Racing,” Bayne said with an ear-to-ear smile. “Our down year last year wasn’t a reflection of work ethic at all; it was simply a reflection of being behind. This season we’re really looking forward to this low downforce package because we felt like our best races were at the tracks [last year] where we had that to work with — Kentucky and Darlington.”

“So to everyone who’s wondering what’s going on at Roush Fenway Racing — it’s a lot of hard work and a lot of attention to detail. Now we’ve just got to execute, and … I feel like our car has some speed (this weekend). The drive-ability is really similar to what we’ve battled in the past, so we’ll see if we can’t make that pay off for us on Sunday.”

Ryan Newman qualified fourth and Bayne’s teammate, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., rounded out the ‘Fast Five’.

Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, Austin Dillon, Martin Truex Jr., Brian Scott and Kasey Kahne made up the remainder of the drivers who advanced through all three rounds of knockout qualifying, and will start in positions six through 11, respectively.

Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin was the only JGR driver who failed to make the final round cut, as well as the first driver out at the end of second round qualifying. He will start 12th after running a lap of 29.120 seconds (190.385 mph).

Other notables who were knocked out in round two were Matt Kenseth (13th), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (16th), Ty Dillon (18th), six-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson (19th) and rookie Ryan Blaney (23rd).

The younger Dillon is substituting for injured three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart this weekend at Stewart Haas Racing, and was extremely happy after his qualifying run came to an end.

“The day just keeps getting better — every time I’ve gotten in the Bass Pro Shops No. 14 Chevrolet these guys have gotten it better for me,” Ty Dillon said with a grin, despite being knocked out a round early. “I might have messed up a little bit in [turns] one and two, but I can’t thank Tony and all these guys for letting me do this. Today was fun, and the best part is we’ve got two more days to make it even better and go out and show what we’re made of (on-track).”

Kyle Busch led the opening round of qualifying at a clip of 28.681 seconds (193.299 mph) ahead of Bayne, Larson, Kurt Busch and Carl Edwards.

Notables who failed to advance out of the first round include Daytona 500 polesitter Chase Elliott, who missed the top 24 by 0.019 of a second and will start 25th; 2015 polesitter Joey Logano (27th) and Clint Bowyer (29th).

The next on-track action for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams will be “Happy Hour” final practice, rolling off at 11:30 a.m. ET Saturday and airing live on FOX Sports 1.


Audio with Coors Light Pole Award winner Kurt Busch:

Audio with third-starting Trevor Bayne:


RESULTS: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series; Coors Light Pole Qualifying; Atlanta Motor Speedway; Feb. 26, 2016

  1. Kurt Busch
  2. Jamie McMurray
  3. Trevor Bayne
  4. Ryan Newman
  5. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  6. Kevin Harvick
  7. Carl Edwards
  8. Austin Dillon
  9. Martin Truex Jr.
  10. Brian Scott
  11. Kasey Kahne
  12. Denny Hamlin
  13. Matt Kenseth
  14. Greg Biffle
  15. Casey Mears
  16. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  17. Brad Keselowski
  18. Ty Dillon
  19. Jimmie Johnson
  20. Kyle Larson
  21. Paul Menard
  22. A.J. Allmendinger
  23. Ryan Blaney
  24. Chase Elliott
  25. Danica Patrick
  26. Joey Logano
  27. Aric Almirola
  28. Clint Bowyer
  29. Landon Cassill
  30. Regan Smith
  31. Chris Buescher
  32. Michael McDowell
  33. David Ragan
  34. Michael Annett
  35. Matt DiBenedetto
  36. Cole Whitt
  37. Josh Wise
  38. Jeffrey Earnhardt
  39. Kyle Busch (DQ after scoring provisional pole)


About the Writer

Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network. Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.

The 22-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for both the United Sprint Car Series and the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.

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