Kurt Busch will start on the pole in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 as weather ended Friday’s qualifying session after just one round.
Busch sat atop the leaderboard at Texas Motor Speedway when lightning moved into the area. Soon the rain followed and NASCAR made the decision to clear pit road and set the 37-car field by speeds from the first 15-minute qualifying round.
The fastest lap for Busch was 197.368 mph. The pole is the first of the season for Busch, the 23rd of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career, his third at Texas as well as the second straight for him at the speedway.
“It was a unique situation with just having the one round and the thought that weather was out in the area, it hadn’t crossed our minds but yet you have to play all three rounds as smart as you can, and so we went a little bit aggressive on that first round and it paid off,” said Busch. “I think Round 2 we would have picked up even more speed, and then round three that would have been where would have had to make a big gamble to see if we could still maintain that pace. But I’m glad that we had the pace right off the truck.
The No. 41 Ford will be joined on the front row by Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kevin Harvick. Harvick, the most recent winner at Texas, who clocked in at 197.116 mph.
And just as he did in Friday’s practice session, Clint Bowyer completed the SHR/Ford sweep of the top three. Bowyer ran a lap of 196.829 mph.
“Thanks to Billy Scott [crew chief], Doug Yates and the engine department, those guys are building some good steam and having that technical alliance with Mobil 1, those guys have helped us out with the qualifying side of it,” Busch continued. “It’s really neat to have our Fords at Stewart-Haas hauling the mail like this. When you go to attack the track and really stand on the gas hard it’s a great feeling to know that it’s going to stick and Stewart-Haas Racing has been on fire recently.”
The remainder of the top five were Ryan Blaney (196.600 mph) and Denny Hamlin (196.257 mph).
Completing the top 10 were Martin Truex Jr. (195.979 mph), Joey Logano (195.922 mph), Kyle Busch (195.773 mph), defending race winner Jimmie Johnson (195.603 mph), and Kyle Larson (195.030 mph).
Rookie William Byron did get on track after his Hendrick Motorsports team changed the engine following an issue in practice. Byron was 33rd in the first round but treated it as a practice session to shake down the new engine. He will have to start at the rear of the field Sunday.
NEXT UP: Practice at 11 a.m. ET Saturday.