Busch paces Food City 500 qualifying with record run

Jeff Birchfield • Mar 15, 2013 at 10:42 PM

BRISTOL -- Kyle Busch still has the magic touch at Bristol Motor Speedway.

The driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota broke a nearly 10-year-old track record by Ryan Newman with a lap of 14.813 seconds (129.535 mph) during Friday qualifying to win the pole for Sunday's Food City 500.

"We unloaded with a really good race car," Busch said. "We just kept fine-tuning on it and were able to get it where it was pretty quick in practice. We thought we'd have a shot at the pole, but we've thought that before and we've ended up 30th or something.

"We backed up our practice time, which was good and the car felt great during the lap."

It was Busch's 11th career pole in the Sprint Cup Series, the most recent before Friday coming last November in Phoenix.

Despite his five Cup Series wins at Bristol, his best start previously was ninth in August 2008. His best start during one of his five BMS wins was 12th two years ago.

"I've never worried too much about qualifying runs," said the 27-year-old driver. "This new car -- I like driving it because you can drive it a lot more like the old car that we had years ago where you could just abuse it a little bit and try to drive a little bit harder. The old car was all about being smooth and precise and this one here, you can make a little more speed by trying a little harder."

Nine drivers broke the 15-second barrier and three bested the old record of 14.908 seconds (128.709) set by Newman on March 21, 2003.

Kasey Kahne was second in his Chevrolet with a lap at 14.875 (128.995), followed by Busch's teammate Denny Hamlin third 14.879 (128.960) in his Toyota. Newman was well off the pace of the leaders, 31st in the lineup.

Kahne said he lost just enough speed at the first part of his lap to cost him the pole position.

"I knew Kyle had put down a great lap and a track record," Kahne said. "So I knew I had to go pretty hard. I just felt like I

may have given up a little bit in (turns) 1 and 2, which would have made it really close for the pole. But, it was still really good between (turns) 3 and 4."

Brian Vickers was fourth in a Toyota, followed by Paul Menard and Jamie McMurray in Chevrolets. Brad Keselowski was the top Ford qualifier in seventh.

Tony Stewart in a Chevrolet, Martin Truex Jr. in a Toyota and Joey Logano in a Ford rounded out the top 10.

Other notables included four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon in 11th and five-time champion Jimmie Johnson in 13th. Both Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Danica Patrick had a tough time finding speed.

Earnhardt qualified 32nd, while Patrick was 41st out of the 44 drivers.

Scott Riggs in a Ford was the only driver not to make the race, bumped out by two-time champion Terry Labonte getting a provisional.

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