Welcome back, Matt.
Matt Kenseth knocked his qualifying rust off in a big way Friday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway by grabbing the pole for the Monster Energy All-Star Race. But Kenseth – who did not make a qualifying lap in his first race of the year last weekend – did not do so in traditional fashion.
As part of the All-Star Race rules, qualifying consisted of three laps around the 1.5-mile speedway — and included a four-tire pit stop with no pit road speed limit.
Kenseth’s timed laps along with his time spent on pit road were the best of the 17 cars that qualified. The No. 6 bunch put down the best pit stop at 16.1 seconds, and they also chose to perform their pit stop starting from the left side of the car.
The best lap for Kenseth was 126.915 mph.
“It’s neat to sit on the pole; Ricky [Stenhouse Jr.] was a huge help, obviously,” said Kenseth. “Having both cars on the front is just really truth to these guys — the pit stops and obviously engines, and all the restrictor-plate stuff to get this done.
“So this was really about the car and the team than it was about me. It’s neat to be on the front row with Ricky and looking forward to tomorrow.”
Roush Fenway will make up the front row as Ricky Stenhouse Jr. qualified second. The No. 17 team was the first in the qualifying session to go from the left to the right side of the car, and Stenhouse’s best lap was 126.427mph.
Stewart-Haas Racing drivers Clint Bowyer and Kevin Harvick will start third and fourth, respectively. Bowyer clocked in at 126.233mph and Harvick’s best lap was 125.834mph. Martin Truex Jr. rounds out the top five with a lap of 125.636 mph.
The rest of the top 10 were Ryan Blaney (125.511mph), Kyle Busch (125.427mph), Brad Keselowski (124.962mph), Austin Dillon (124.738mph) and Joey Logano (124.137mph).
Busch is the defending race winner.
Eight of the 17 teams chose to perform their pit stop starting from the left side of the car, which included both Roush Fenway cars and all three Stewart-Haas cars. The other three were Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin.
Jamie McMurray will start 12th after being penalized five seconds for a loose lug nut. Ryan Newman will start 13th and was also penalized for the same infraction. Denny Hamlin slid through his pit stall and was then penalized for an outside tire violation, putting him 14th on the grid.
Kyle Larson will start 16th after sliding through his pit stall. And Kasey Kahne will start 17th after he slid through his pit stall and was penalized 10 seconds for having two loose lug nuts.