Kyle Busch wins sixth career pole in Cup series

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Kyle Busch won the pole for Saturday night's NASCAR race at Richmond International Raceway with a fast lap at 127.077 mph.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver turned the lap as the 19th of 47 cars attempting to qualify, easily beating David Reutimann (126.618) for the top spot.

The pole, just the sixth Busch has earned in 196 starts in NASCAR's premier series, gave him his choice of pit stalls as he defends his victory in this race a year ago.

"It's nice to sit on the pole every once in a while," Busch said of his first pole position since March 2009 in Las Vegas. "I only get the opportunity maybe once a year."

Busch, who swept both races here a year ago, also won the pole for Friday night's Nationwide Series race on the 0.75-mile oval, giving him a good start to the weekend.

Seeking his first Sprint Cup Series victory since last August at Bristol, he said he feels as if he's getting closer all the time to ending a 21-race winless streak.

"We've had some opportunities where we should have won races," he said. "We've also had opportunities where we should have run 15th or 18th and we finished top 10."

Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon, who said the air has been cleared in their well-publicized feud of the past two weeks, will start in the second row, followed by Ryan Newman, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick and Jamie McMurray.

Reutimann's solid run came after a shaky start to the day.

"It is two opposite ends of the spectrum from where we were when we unloaded to where we are now," he said. "We weren't very good at the beginning of the practice. We were way off, to be honest with you. ... We made some big adjustments that got us a lot better."

Johnson, who took the blame for making a mistake that wrecked Gordon and caused the war of words at the end of last weekend's race at Talladega, said his team struggled, too.

"Really really pleased," he said. "It seems like a lot of guys are really struggling to get grip, but we couldn't produce a lap time as fast as some of our teammates were. ... At the end of practice, we found a few things that gave us a little bit of hope."

Local star Denny Hamlin struggled on his run and will start 30th.