Kansas City, KS – Matt Kenseth won the pole for the STP 400 after topping his former Roush Fenway Racing teammate Carl Edwards in Friday's qualifying at Kansas Speedway.
Kenseth, who is in his first season with Joe Gibbs Racing after driving for Roush Fenway the past 13 years, set a new track qualifying at Kansas with a lap at 191.864 mph. He was the second-to-last driver in the 44-car qualifying order. Kenseth earned his ninth career Sprint Cup Series pole but his first since last July at Daytona (25 races ago). It's also his second pole at this 1.5-mile racetrack, with his first one here coming in 2005.
Edwards was quickest in practice earlier in the day, while Kenseth was seventh on the charts.
"This (car) was kind of a struggle for most of the day, and I felt like I wasn't giving (crew chief) Jason (Ratcliff) the best feedback," Kenseth said. "The team made some awesome adjustments for qualifying."
Since the debut of NASCAR's new Sprint Cup race car, the Gen-6, at the start of this season, the track qualifying record has been broken at Bristol, Martinsville, Texas and Kansas.
Kenseth won the most recent Sprint Cup race at Kansas last October. It was the first time the series competed on the track's new pavement and reconfiguration of the turns.
Edwards, who hails from nearby Columbia, Mo., turned a lap at 191.748 mph moments before Kenseth made his run. Edwards' lap was just 0.002 seconds quicker than his teammate, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who is a rookie in the series this year.
"I had the pole there for about five minutes, and it felt really good, but we've got a great starting spot," Edwards said.
Sam Hornish Jr., who is making his first Sprint Cup start this season, qualified fourth, while Kyle Busch, last weekend's race winner at Texas, took the fifth spot.
Aric Almirola, Martin Truex Jr., Mark Martin, Ryan Newman and Clint Bowyer, an Emporia, Kan. native, completed the top-10.
Jeff Gordon will have to start from the rear of the field in his backup car for Sunday's 400-mile race after he crashed during his qualifying attempt. Gordon, a two-time Kansas race winner, got loose and spun around before backing it into the outside wall in turn 2 during his first lap.
"It felt great coming to the green, and I was pretty happy with it through (turns) 3 and 4, and I got down into 1 and 2, and I arced it in 3, just the way I wanted to and got to the yellow line and started picking up the throttle, and it just slowly came around," Gordon said. "For a second, I thought I was going to save it. I lit the tires up to keep it from hitting too hard, and now we have a car and an engine that are pretty much done. It's been a while since I've wrecked in qualifying."
Busch wrecked his primary car in practice and had to go to a backup car, but he will not have to start the race from the rear since his backup vehicle was used during qualifying.
Brad Keselowski, the defending series champion, qualified 33rd, while his Penske Racing teammate, Joey Logano, was 22nd. Keselowski and Logano's teams received severe penalties from NASCAR earlier this week after their cars failed pre-race inspection at Texas. Officials confiscated the rear-end housing and other parts on Keselowski's No. 2 and Logano's No. 22.
Seven team members from Penske, including crew chiefs Paul Wolfe (Keselowski) and Todd Gordon (Logano) were suspended from competition for six races as well as next month's all-star event, but those suspensions have not begun since Penske is appealing the penalties for both of its teams. The date for the appeal has yet to be announced.
"I don't think I've been surprised by much of anything in the last two or three days, but I think it's really important to allow the appeal process to work its way out on its own," Keselowski said. "I'm thankful that there is a process for appeals, because obviously, we're in an 'agree to disagree' stage between Penske Racing and NASCAR, and there is, thankfully, a third panel or group to settle those disagreements."
Danica Patrick's 25th-place finish was her best qualifying run since winning the pole for the season-opening Daytona 500 two months ago. Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start 23rd.
Sunday's race at Kansas is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. ET.