Kyle Busch earns third Coca-Cola 600 pole; Harvick to start in back

Image by Harrelson/LAT

Kyle Busch earns third Coca-Cola 600 pole; Harvick to start in back


Kyle Busch earns third Coca-Cola 600 pole; Harvick to start in back


Kyle Busch ran his fastest lap of the day Thursday when it mattered most.

As such, the 191.836mph lap he set in the final round puts Busch on the pole in the Coca-Cola 600, his third of the season. It will be the third time Busch starts from the top spot at Charlotte Motor Speedway; however, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver is still seeking his first points-paying win in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at the speedway.

Starting lineup

“We certainly did [save the best for last],” said Busch. “The M&M’s Camry was fast, it felt pretty good. The guys did an amazing job in practice — we weren’t very good in practice and Adam [Stevens, crew chief] and the boys went to work. Fortunately, today I had extra track time, so I’ve got my Xfinity [Series] ride to thank probably for a little bit for that today.”

Busch then quipped about the “pure talent all the way around” his No. 18 team, a reference to the same terminology he used after last weekend’s Camping World Truck Series race when asked how he overcome a pair of pit road penalties for a decent finish.

“Just feels good,” Busch said of his run. “This is a race that you always enjoy coming to. I haven’t won here in a points-paying event, so it would certainly be nice to get that done here this weekend with the 600.”

Joey Logano will join Busch on the front row after also running his fastest lap. Logano clocked in at 191.218mph and ruined what looked to be a JGR 1-2-3 party. Denny Hamlin (191.049 mph) will start third and Erik Jones (190.894 mph) will start fourth.

Brad Keselowski (190.557mph) completed the top five.

The rest of the top 10 were Ryan Newman (190.201mph), Jamie McMurray, who had been fastest in the first round (189.940mph), Ryan Blaney (189.893mph), Aric Almirola and Daniel Suarez, who ran identical laps of 189.707 mph.

Defending race winner Austin Dillon will start 12th.

Other notables lining up in the field: Martin Truex Jr. 15th; Kurt Busch 16th; Matt Kenseth 17th; William Byron 21st; Chase Elliott 22nd; Jimmie Johnson 24th; Alex Bowman 27th; Clint Bowyer 28th.

Two drivers, JJ Yeley and Kevin Harvick, did not make it on track to attempt a qualifying lap due to inspection issues and will start at the rear of the field on Sunday afternoon.

Harvick’s car also failed pre-qualifying inspection and as a result car chief Robert Smith has been ejected for the remainder of the weekend. Additionally, Harvick will also have to serve a 30-minute practice hold on Saturday.

NEXT UP: Second practice at 9:05 a.m. ET Saturday.