BRISTOL, Tenn. – Kurt Busch was an elite talent as a young driver, and if anything, brother Kyle Busch was even more precocious.
“He always told everybody, ‘If you think I’m good, wait for my younger brother,’” Kyle Busch quipped on Friday after winning the pole for Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway—by .002 seconds over his older brother.
“I can’t believe it’s two thousandths,” said Kurt Busch, who ran 128.804 mph to Kyle’s 128.822 mph in the final round of knockout qualifying. “It seemed like an eternity.”
Kurt admitted to being too aggressive in turn one on his money lap.
“I slipped up just a little but in turn one, and that was all Kyle needed to get by us,” Kurt said. “I missed it a little bit in turn one—I got greedy.”
Sunday’s race will be the third time the Busch brothers have started on the front row of a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race, all with Kyle in the pole position. The brothers qualified 1-2 at Las Vegas in 2009 and at Texas in 2013.
The Busch Pole Award was Kyle’s second of the season, his second at Bristol and the 29th of his career.
Brad Keselowski qualified third in the No. 2 Team Penske Ford, followed by the Fords of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Ryan Blaney.
Kevin Harvick, a three-time winner this year, did not make a qualifying run after wrecking in practice because of a front suspension failure and going to a backup car. By NASCAR rules, he will start from the rear of the field on Sunday.
So will the race’s defending champion, Jimmie Johnson, who qualified 17th but later learned his team had discovered a cut tire on his No. 48 Chevrolet. Because of the necessary tire change, Johnson also will start from the back of the field.
“Some bad luck/traffic in round 2 of qualifying has us starting 17th,” Johnson posted on Twitter. “…and then the amazing news of a cut left front tire means we are now starting last.”
The last sentence was followed by a scowling emoji.
Kyle Larson, Paul Menard, Alex Bowman, Michael McDowell and Joey Logano qualified sixth through tenth, respectively. Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender William Byron matched his previous best qualifying effort with an 11th-place effort.
Daniel Suarez starts 12th after edging Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Erik Jones for the last spot in the final round.
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Qualifying – Food City 500
Bristol Motor Speedway
Friday, April 13, 2018
- (18) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 128.822 mph.
- (41) Kurt Busch, Ford, 128.804 mph.
- (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 128.262 mph.
- (17) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 128.253 mph.
- (12) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 128.185 mph.
- (42) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 128.048 mph.
- (21) Paul Menard, Ford, 127.980 mph.
- (88) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 127.835 mph.
- (34) Michael McDowell, Ford, 127.673 mph.
- (22) Joey Logano, Ford, 127.571 mph.
- (24) William Byron #, Chevrolet, 127.470 mph.
- (19) Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 126.628 mph.
- (20) Erik Jones, Toyota, 127.317 mph.
- (14) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 127.191 mph.
- (95) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 127.115 mph.
- (9) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 127.031 mph.
- (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 126.972 mph.
- (47) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 126.771 mph.
- (10) Aric Almirola, Ford, 126.704 mph.
- (43) Darrell Wallace Jr. #, Chevrolet, 126.420 mph.
- (3) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 126.395 mph.
- (37) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 126.270 mph.
- (38) David Ragan, Ford, 126.204 mph.
- (32) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 125.535 mph.
- (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 125.773 mph.
- (78) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 125.765 mph.
- (15) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 125.248 mph.
- (23) Gray Gaulding, Toyota, 124.938 mph.
- (00) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 124.922 mph.
- (31) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 124.735 mph.
- (1) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 124.517 mph.
- (13) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 123.978 mph.
- (6) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 123.802 mph.
- (72) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 121.790 mph.
- (96) DJ Kennington, Toyota, 121.389 mph.
- (55) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 121.366 mph.
- (51) Harrison Rhodes, Chevrolet, 118.058 mph.
- (66) Chad Finchum(i), Toyota, 114.658 mph.
- (4) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 0.000 mph.