NSCS: Magical Return; Kurt Busch Earns Coors Light Pole in Second Race Back at Fontana

Marshall Gabell Featured, NASCAR 0 Comments

FONTANA, Calif. and CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Report by Race Chaser Online Mid-Atlantic Correspondent Marshall Gabell – Doug Pensinger/Getty Images North America photo –

It has not taken long for Stewart-Haas Racing veteran Kurt Busch to become comfortable in a race car again.

After conserving his tires throughout knockout qualifying on Friday evening, Busch took his No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet to the top of the speed charts during the final round, claiming his 17th career pole in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

“I just wanted to focus on the car and my lap and the line that I needed to run,” Busch said. “I felt confident with the cars ability to have that speed. You just don’t have to over think it. Luckily I was able to pull that off and not over think it and deliver for me team.”

With his first pole since Darlington in 2013, Busch is now hoping to clinch his spot on the 2015 Chase Grid and hand his team owner and supporter Gene Haas another win after being suspended to start the season.

“This is huge for Gene Haas,” Busch explained. “That is what I wanted to start the interview with is thank you Gene for believing in me. This is my job. Come to the track, drive the car and put it up on the pole and go for wins. That is what Gene has told me to do from the get go and I’m glad I have this chance to go back out there and live up to why he hired me.”

Defending Sprint Cup Series champion and Busch’s teammate Kevin Harvick (185.047) qualified second fastest, just missing out on his second pole this season as he looks to win three straight races on Sunday afternoon.

“Hopefully, we can keep it up this week,” Harvick said. “I didn’t get to run where I wanted to run there were three cars on the apron down there where I wanted to be that had finished their lap. I had to kind of abort going down the backstretch and ran through the middle of the track. All-in-all the guys did a great job and it is still a good starting spot for us.”

Matt Kenseth (184.966) qualified third fastest with teammate David Ragan (184.866), who is subbing for the injured Kyle Busch in the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota again this weekend, posting the fourth quickest time.

‘Young Money’ Kyle Larson (184.337) rounded out the top five positions in his No. 42 Target Chevrolet for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Denny Hamlin, Jeff Gordon, Brad Keselowski, Ryan Newman and Michael Waltrip Racing pilot Clint Bowyer closed out the top ten spots.

Brett Moffitt, who was named the replacement driver for the sidelined Brian Vickers earlier this morning, will start from the rear following right front damage (from hitting the wall) that sent him to a back-up machine.

“We’re struggling here,” said Moffitt, who finished eighth at Atlanta earlier this season. “We need to find some speed.”

Chris Buescher, who is making his Sprint Cup Series debut with Front Row Motorsports this weekend, qualified 33rd in his No. 34 Dockside Logistics Ford.

Reed Sorenson and Team Xtreme Racing driver Travis Kvapil failed to make the race.

The Auto Club 400 in Fontana is slated for 3:30 p.m. eastern on Sunday afternoon as the Sprint Cup Series drivers prepare to duel in the Golden State.


RESULTS: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Qualifying; Auto Club Speedway; March 20, 2015

  1. Kurt Busch
  2. Kevin Harvick
  3. Matt Kenseth
  4. David Ragan
  5. Kyle Larson
  6. Denny Hamlin
  7. Jeff Gordon
  8. Brad Keselowski
  9. Ryan Newman
  10. Clint Bowyer
  11. Paul Menard
  12. Martin Truex Jr.
  13. Joey Logano
  14. Jimmie Johnson
  15. Carl Edwards
  16. Sam Hornish Jr.
  17. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  18. AJ Allmendinger
  19. Kasey Kahne
  20. Tony Stewart
  21. Austin Dillon
  22. Danica Patrick
  23. Aric Almirola
  24. Michael Annett
  25. Brian Scott
  26. Jamie McMurray
  27. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  28. Alex Bowman
  29. Greg Biffle
  30. Brett Moffitt
  31. Justin Allgaier
  32. Cole Whitt
  33. Chris Buescher
  34. Jeb Burton
  35. Josh Wise
  36. Trevor Bayne
  37. Casey Mears
  38. Brendan Gaughan
  39. Mike Bliss
  40. Landon Cassill
  41. J.J. Yeley
  42. Matt DiBenedetto
  43. David Gilliland

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