KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Matt Kenseth set a track qualifying
record in capturing the pole for the Banquet 400, hoping it will
put him in position to win Sunday and get back into the race for
the Chase for the Nextel Cup championship.
Kenseth is seventh in the standings, 111 points behind leader
Tony Stewart. The last time Kenseth won a pole, he took the
checkered flag, too. Now he'd like more of the same at the 1-mile
tri-oval at Kansas Speedway.
The 2003 Winston Cup champion, whose uneventful title run led
NASCAR to overhaul its title format, recorded his only victory this
year on Aug. 26 at Bristol. This is his third career pole.
"We had a good car lately, and it's been a lot of fun to drive
them," said Kenseth, who turned in a lap of 180.856 mph in his
Ford on Saturday. "We haven't had good cars until last couple of
The top five qualifiers all broke Jimmie Johnson's track record
of 180.373 mph, set in 2003 -- but no other title contenders made it
into the first two rows, and only half of the Chase field will
start in the top 10.
Carl Edwards, sixth in the standings, will start fifth on
Sunday. Greg Biffle, sitting fifth, will start eighth. Stewart will
start ninth, and defending champion Kurt Busch -- 10th in the
standings and all but out of contention to repeat -- qualified 10th.
"The pole is great and all that," Edwards said, "but the car
is so good it would have been foolish to come out here in cool
temperatures … and lay it on the line the first lap and have a
Ryan Newman, who trails Stewart by only 4 points, will start
11th. Jeremy Mayfield, eighth in the standings, qualified 14th,
with ninth-place Mark Martin starting 19th.
Third-place Rusty Wallace will have the most ground to make up
Sunday after qualifying 33rd in the 43-car field.
Two drivers chasing 11th place, and the $1 million bonus that
goes with it, qualified second and third. Elliott Sadler, the first
to break Johnson's record Saturday, will start on the outside front
after running a quick lap of 180.717 mph in his Ford. Jeff Gordon,
winner of the first two Cup races here, had a quick lap of 180.469
mph in his Chevrolet and will start third.
"The track was pretty tricky for qualifying, because the
temperatures are cool and the tires had a lot of grip," Gordon
said. "We had a great run, but in order to get on the pole you
have to have the car a lot tighter than we had it."
Scott Wimmer qualified fourth, followed by Edwards, Kevin
Lepage, Denny Hamlin, Biffle, Stewart and Busch.
Defending race winner Joe Nemechek, who swept the Busch and
Nextel Cup races here last year, qualified 16th for the race.