Kahne tops in qualifying on Kansas Speedway's new pavement
Kansas City, KS (Sports Network) - Kasey Kahne won the pole for Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 after he easily shattered the track qualifying record on the newly repaved Kansas Speedway.
Kahne, who is in this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, topped Michael Waltrip Racing drivers Mark Martin and Clint Bowyer in Friday's qualifying session at Kansas with a lap at 191.360 mph. The Hendrick Motorsports driver notched his fourth pole of the season and the 26th of his Sprint Cup Series career.
All 46 drivers who participated in qualifying posted a lap faster than the previous track record of 180.856 mph, set by Matt Kenseth in Oct. 2005.
Sprint Cup teams have spent the past two days testing at Kansas to familiarize themselves with the new pavement and reconfiguration. The 1.5-mile racetrack now has variable banking from 17 degrees to 20 in the turns. The previous banking in the corners here was 15 degrees.
"I'm really happy, and our team has done a nice job this week," Kahne said. "We've been here for a few days, and it's been cold. The track is great. I think they did a really nice job here at Kansas Speedway, with the repavement and making the track what it is. It's going to be tough this weekend, but from here on out, it's going to be one of the best racetracks we go to."
Martin, who is driving a limited Sprint Cup schedule for MWR this year, earned the outside pole with a lap at 191.238 mph. His teammate, Clint Bowyer, who hails from nearby Emporia, Kan., qualified third at 191.130 mph. Bowyer, who is a title contender, won last weekend's race at Charlotte.
"That's an extremely fast lap for a mile-and-a-half track," Bowyer said. "That will get your attention. Unbelievable how fast that is, how fast that feels. You go off into turn one, and it's crazy the speed and inertia you get going into the corner."
Kyle Busch took the fourth spot, followed by Aric Almirola and Ryan Newman.
Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick completed the top-10. Johnson, Hamlin and Harvick are in the Chase as well.
During Thursday morning's test session, Hamlin crashed hard into the turn one wall. He complained of dizziness shortly after the incident. Medical officials at the track evaluated him throughout the day and eventually cleared him to race.
"I feel 100 percent today," Hamlin said prior to the start of Friday's lone practice session. "Thought I was good yesterday, and then obviously, I got better with every hour, but today after waking up, I'm 100 percent and good to go. Really, it's just business as usual for the weekend."
Points leader Brad Keselowski qualified 25th.
"We just have more work to do than we wanted for Sunday," he said. "Race day is what counts, and we have some more practice time to work on the car tomorrow. Track position is important. If you don't qualify well, you just have to make sure that your car is fast in race trim, and that's what we'll try to do in (Saturday's final practice)."
Keselowski currently holds a seven-point lead over Johnson and a 15-point advantage over Hamlin. Bowyer is 28 markers out of the lead.
Regan Smith, who continues to substitute for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88 car, qualified a disappointing 39th. Earnhardt Jr. will miss his second race due to a concussion he suffered during a multi-car crash on the last lap at Talladega earlier this month. He is hopeful to return to competition next week at Martinsville.
Josh Wise, Cole Whitt and David Stremme are those drivers who failed to qualify for the 400-mile race at Kansas, which is scheduled to start just after 2 p.m. (ET).
10/19 21:34:35 ET