Thursday, September 23, 2021

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Kyle Busch scores Joe Gibbs Racing a third pole in STP 500 at Martinsville

With a lap of 18.998 seconds, 99.674 mph, Kyle Busch will lead the field to the green flag for the 14th time in his Sprint Cup Series pole. Busch won the Coors Light Pole Award for the STP 500 on Friday at Martinsville, which marks the third straight pole for Joe Gibbs Racing.

“It feels good to put the M&M’s Camry on the pole here at Martinsville is something that doesn’t happen very often — at least with me behind the wheel,” Busch commented. “It certainly is a great day for us and the whole team — Dave Rogers (crew chief) and everybody. They did a great job. We unloaded with a fast car and we tried to dial it in as best we could with race trim and then right there at the last second we did a qualifying run and that was about all we got.

“Guys did a good job there making some good changes to it for the qualifying session — the first one — and getting us a good lap there. I think we were third and then especially the changes that we made in between to continue to try to put down fast laps with the tires kind of diminishing there. We were able to do that. The second one we actually picked up a little bit of time so hooray for me and the team and we’re on the pole here so that’s good.”

Busch will start on the front row alongside his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin, who qualified second for his third top 10 start of the season.

“We really fought loose all during qualifying runs and just didn’t get it quite tight enough for that last one,” Hamlin said. “Tire wear is going to be big on Sunday and it’s something that we’re going to work on tomorrow during practice and focus on. We got quite a bit of race run in today just in case it does rain. We feel pretty confident in what we have for Sunday.”

Joey Logano posted the quickest time in round one with a speed of 100.201 mph (18.898 seconds) to set a new  track record. However, the Team Penske driver was unable to back it up in round two, therefore qualifying third.

“I feel like our Shell/Pennzoil Ford has speed in it obviously,” Logano commented. “The guys were telling me that’s our sixth segment we’ve won in qualifying here and we only have one pole, so I’m winning the wrong ones and it’s really frustrating me. I’m a little mad about our second run there. I felt like we really had a shot at the pole, but, overall, I feel like for Sunday our car is decent.”

Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon rounded out the top five.

Matt Kenseth qualified sixth, followed by Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards, Jamie McMurray and Danica Patrick. Outside of Daytona and Talladega, this is Patrick’s best career qualifying effort.

Notably, Dale Earnhardt Jr. who currently sits second in points, currently sits 26th.

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