Darlington, SC (Sports Network) - One day after testing an IndyCar at
Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Kurt Busch set a new track qualifying record at
Darlington Raceway to win the pole for Saturday night's Southern 500.
Busch, who is in his first full season as driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row
Racing Chevrolet, made a lap around Darlington's 1.366-mile "egg-shaped" oval
at 181.918 mph, which surpassed the previous record of 181.254 mph, set by
Kasey Kahne in 2011. He was the only driver to top the record.
Busch claimed his 16th career Sprint Cup Series pole but his first since June
2011 at Michigan. It's also his second pole at Darlington. He became the
youngest pole winner here in September 2001 when he was 23 years old at the
"Wow, what an incredible lap," Busch said. "Just the way the team gave me the
confidence when we first unloaded, they deserve all the credit. With the
lineup of items that we had to go through today and the confidence they had in
each of the changes they made, we gained speed.
"It just gave me the confidence to say, 'You know what, I'm going out there
and I have a great qualifying draw. Let's just go out there and lay a lap
and see if it sticks'."
Busch participated in a rookie orientation for this year's Indianapolis 500 on
Thursday. He drove an IndyCar for Andretti Autosport, running at speeds of up
to 218 mph. The 2004 Sprint Cup champion is open to the idea of competing in
the Indy 500 and the 600-mile NASCAR race at Charlotte on the same day in the
future but not this year. Indianapolis and Charlotte are scheduled for May 26.
Jimmie Johnson, who won last year's Southern 500 and gave team owner Rick
Hendrick his 200th Cup victory, qualified second, while Kurt's younger
brother, Kyle Busch, took the third spot. Kahne and Martin Truex Jr. rounded
out the top-five.
Denny Hamlin qualified sixth, followed by Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon, who will
make his 700th start in the series, Greg Biffle and Kevin Harvick.
Hamlin plans to run the whole 500-mile distance at Darlington after driving
his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota for just 25 laps in last Sunday's race at
Dale Earnhardt Jr. qualified 16th. Defending series champion Brad Keselowski
was 26th and Danica Patrick placed 40th. Patrick will use her backup car for
the race after wrecking her primary car in practice earlier in the day.
All 43 drivers who qualified made the starting field.
The Sports Network