Sign in to comment!

Menu
Home

NASCAR

Kenseth tops in Daytona qualifying, Stewart's lap disallowed

Matt Kenseth followed up his Daytona 500 victory by winning the pole for Saturday night's Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway.

Kenseth, the current points leader, turned a lap at 192.386 mph for his first pole in 26 starts at Daytona. The Roush Fenway Racing driver also claimed his eighth career Sprint Cup pole.

The 40-year-old Kenseth revealed last week that he is leaving Roush Fenway at season's end. There has been wide speculation that he will join Joe Gibbs Racing for the 2013 season.

Kenseth has been stellar on the restrictor-plate tracks (Daytona and Talladega) so far this season, winning his second Daytona 500 in February and nearly pulling off the victory in May at Talladega.

"Our lap was obviously a good one," Kenseth said. "It was faster than the rest. I had very little to do with it, so qualifying at the speedway races is all about the car and the engine, and those guys did a spectacular job at Roush all year long really in preparing our speedway cars.

"They've been really fast, and (engine builder) Doug Yates and those guys have done a super job on the engines with the new fuel injection, and the plate engines have run really good and had us competitive at both speedway races so far this year."

Kenseth will attempt to become the first driver in 30 years to win both Sprint Cup point races at Daytona in the same season. Bobby Allison recorded a season-sweep here in 1982. Fireball Roberts (1962), Cale Yarborough (1968) and LeeRoy Yarbrough (1969) also accomplished the same feat.

"Yeah, that would be pretty cool," Kenseth said. "I never thought, especially early in my career with speedway racing, I didn't feel I was particularly good at it. I never thought I'd be able to win a race here, so it was pretty neat the Speedweeks we had, and certainly in '09, we won the first one and then to come down here and have a real fast car again, come off a real great race at Talladega, and then come down here and sit on the pole.

"I certainly think for our team and everything our confidence is high, but this race is still kind of a crapshoot."

Tony Stewart posted the second fastest lap in qualifying at 192.361 mph, which was 0.006 seconds behind Kenseth, but Stewart's time was disallowed after NASCAR officials discovered an illegal cooling hose on his No. 14 Chevrolet during post-qualifying inspection. Penalties could be forthcoming to Stewart's team next week.

Earlier in the day, Austin Dillon had his pole position for the Nationwide Series race at Daytona stripped after his car failed post-qualifying inspection for the same rules violation as Stewart.

Stewart's teammate, Ryan Newman, finished third in qualifying, but Newman has moved up to the outside pole.

Kasey Kahne will start third, followed by Greg Biffle and Jeff Gordon.

Bill Elliott, Casey Mears, A.J. Allmendinger, Brad Keselowski, who won last weekend's race at Kentucky, and Marcos Ambrose will roll off sixth through 10th, respectively. Elliott is driving an entry for Turner Motorsports, which is making its debut in the series.

Denny Hamlin, who did not participate in Thursday's practice sessions due to back spasms, will start 23rd. Hamlin's JGR teammate, Kyle Busch, drove his No. 11 car in practice.

"I sat in the seat, and everything was good," Hamlin said of his qualifying run. "The car was very smooth. That was the first time I sat in the car, so it felt perfect and drove straight."

Hamlin was entered in Friday's Nationwide race but opted not to compete due to his back issues. Clint Bowyer replaced him in JGR's No. 20 Toyota.

Robert Richardson Jr. was the only driver who failed to qualify for Saturday's Coke Zero 400, which is scheduled to start just after 7:30 p.m. (ET).