Matt Kenseth wins Las Vegas pole

Updated: March 4, 2011, 10:22 PM ET
Associated Press

LAS VEGAS -- Matt Kenseth was all too aware of his lousy qualifying record, and even with a fast car, he figured he'd screw up his Friday lap around Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

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Jared C. Tilton/Getty ImagesMatt Kenseth won the pole for the Kobalt Tools 400 with a record 188.884 mph lap at Las Vegas.

He didn't, though, instead turning a flawless lap at 188.884 mph to set a track record. It was the fifth pole of Kenseth's career, and first since Darlington in 2009.

"Five in 12 years? That's a little better than I thought," he deadpanned. "Qualifying is not my strong suit but I knew we had a really fast car. Honestly this is the most nervous I have been before qualifying in probably five years because I knew we had a shot at the pole. I didn't want to mess up a fast car."

Kenseth, who broke Kurt Busch's year-old qualifying record of 188.719, will attempt to break his 72-race winless streak in Sunday's race. His last victory was in 2009 at California.

Marcos Ambrose qualified second, while Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle - Kenseth's teammates at Roush Fenway Racing - allowed Ford to sweep the top four spots. All of them are powered by Roush engines.

Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Joey Logano qualified fifth and sixth. Busch, the current points leader, was briefly on the pole and trying to make sure Kurt or Kyle Busch won the top starting spot for the fourth consecutive year.

Instead, Ambrose knocked Busch down a spot with a quick lap that lifted the Australian's spirits after a disappointing start to his first season with Richard Petty Motorsports.

"My team has really supported me through a slow start. I felt some pressure coming in here and I really wanted to step up," he said.

Ambrose was still doing interviews about his lap when Edwards bettered his speed. Edwards then brushed his car against the back of Ambrose's legs when he came off the track, a grazing the drivers were laughing about after.

AJ Allmendinger, Ambrose's teammate, qualified seventh and was followed by Ryan Newman in a Chevrolet, Martin Truex Jr. in a Toyota and Mark Martin in a Chevrolet.

David Ragan, whose Ford was one of the fastest cars during practice, spun on his qualifying lap and failed to post a time. He will start Sunday's race from the 42nd position.

Kurt Busch, last year's pole winner, was the highest qualifying Dodge at 22nd.

Brian Keselowski failed to qualify for the 43-car field.


Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press