Kenseth scores 20th career pole in JGR front row lockout at Richmond

With the playoffs on the line, Matt Kenseth captured the pole for the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway on Friday.

Kenseth scores 20th career pole in JGR front row lockout at Richmond
Matt Kenseth, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Matt Kenseth, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Kurt Busch, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing Toyota

For Kenseth, who won the pole at the .75-mile track in the spring, it was his third Richmond pole and the 20th of his career.

“We were tight the second round, I didn’t think I had enough speed to get the pole, but these guys did a great job,” said Kenseth, who ran three laps en route to a top speed of 122.421mph. “This is a great start for the weekend, hoping for the best tomorrow.”

His Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin will share the front row with Kenseth on Saturday. Kurt Busch was third followed by Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr., and Kevin Harvick. Kyle Busch, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chase Elliott, Erik Jones, Jamie McMurray and Joey Logano rounded out the top 12 qualifiers.

Kurt Busch was the first track to take a lap in final round. He posted at speed of 121.891mph. Hamlin followed with a lap of 122.266mph then topped Busch with his second lap of 122277mph. Matt Kenseth was the next car on the track and bumped Hamlin with a speed of 122.421mph.

“I don’t know if that will hold up,” Kenseth said at the time.

Harvick completed his first run with three minutes on the clock followed by Elliott, Truex Jr., Logano, Larson and Kyle Busch. Larson was quickest of the group but only mustered a lap of 122.006mph — good enough for fourth. Truex’s lap of 121.984mph was fifth.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Erik Jones were the last cars to attempt initial runs in the final round. Stenhouse’s lap of 121.507mph held up for eighth. Jones ran 10th.

Hamlin, McMurray and Jones made additional attempts. The third lap paid off for Hamlin who vaulted to second.

Round 2

Martin Truex Jr. topped the second round of qualifying with a lap of 123.046mph. Truex completed two laps during his run.

Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Jamie McMurray, Erik Jones, Chase Elliott, Joey Logano, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Kevin Harvick transferred to the final round.

There were no delays with 10minutes to determine the second round. Matt Kenseth was the first car on the track for the second time trial. Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick followed. Busch topped the chart with a lap of 123.035mph. Kenseth (122.945mph) was second, Hamlin — with a single-lap run was third (122.288mph) — and Harvick fourth (121.880mph). Kasey Kahne completed two laps with seven minutes remaining.

Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski and Daniel Suarez were the next group to go. Truex bumped Kurt Busch for P1 with a lap of 123.046mph. Logano was fifth quick (122.017mph) with Keselowski and Suarez running seventh and eighth, respectively.

Clint Bowyer made his qualifying run with less than five minute on the clock. He bumped Keselowski for seventh but dropped to eighth after Larson ran a lap of 122.488mph — good enough for fourth. Larson’s Ganassi Racing teammate Jamie McMurray followed and jumped up to sixth (122.244mph) after two laps.

“I don’t know where the speed came from,” McMurray said.

Chase Elliott 122.034mph topped Logano at the three-minute mark. With two minutes on the clock, Erik Jones vaulted to seventh with a lap of 122.233mph. Ryan Blaney was 12th-quick (121.775mph) temporarily until Kyle Busch made his first run and vaulted to fifth (122.338mph). Kahne and Suarez made last dash attempts but couldn’t climb into the top12.

Round 1

Kyle Larson led the first of 24 cars to transfer from Round 1 of time trials at Richmond Raceway on Friday.

Larson’s single-lap run of 123.378mph held up for the top speed in the first round. Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano, who ran second and third, respectively, were the only drivers other than Ryan Blaney (15th) to put a single lap on their tires on their first attempts.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Daniel Suarez, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, Trevor Baynes, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer, Danica Patrick and Blaney rounded out the top 15. Chris Buescher, Jamie McMurray, Aric Almirola, Brad Keselowski, AJ Allmendinger, Chase Elliott, Kasey Kahne, Erik Jones and Dale Earnhardt Jr. moved on.

Gray Gaulding was the first car on the track to take a lap with 16 minutes on the clock. He posted a speed of 119.771mph. BJ McLeod was second to make a run followed by Jeffrey Earnhardt with 12 minutes to go. Corey LaJoie was the next qualifier as the top cars waited on pit road for the track to cool.

Denny Hamlin was the first driver of note to qualify. He left pit road with under 10 minutes remaining. Kyle Larson followed along with Dale Earnhardt Jr. Larson shot up to P1 with a speed of 123.378mph. Hamlin was second (122.722mph) and Earnhardt third (121.781mph).

The next wave — at eight minutes in — included Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Jamie McMurray, Daniel Suarez and Ryan Newman. Kenseth (123.327mph) and Suarez (123.057mph) moved up to second and third, respectively.

With seven minutes remaining, Kasey Kahne, Kurt Busch, Austin Dillon, Martin Truex Jr., Chase Elliott and Erik Jones made their initial runs. Busch vaulted up to fourth with a lap of 123.024mph followed by Trevor Bayne (122.789mph) and Hamlin.

Joey Logano, Paul Menard, AJ Allmendinger, Ty Dillon, Kyle Busch and David Ragan comprised the next wave with five minutes on the clock. Logano’s lap of 123.237mph was third quick. Kyle Busch (123.029mph) climbed up to fifth.

Jimmie Johnson and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. hit the track with three minutes remaining. Johnson (123.040mph) bumped Busch for fifth.

With two minutes to go in the first round, Ryan Blaney and Danica Patrick were the last cars out to make their first attempts. One minute later, Austin Dillon, Dale Earnhardt Jr.,, Landon Cassill, Newman and Menard made second attempts. Earnhardt transferred into the top 24 with a speed of 121.781mph after three laps.

Watch Hamlin talk about winning the pole:

Cla#DriverManufacturerTimeGapMph
1 20 united_states Matt Kenseth  Toyota 22.055   122.421
2 11 united_states Denny Hamlin  Toyota 22.081 0.026 122.277
3 41 united_states Kurt Busch  Ford 22.083 0.028 122.266
4 42 united_states Kyle Larson  Chevrolet 22.130 0.075 122.006
5 78 united_states Martin Truex Jr.  Toyota 22.134 0.079 121.984
6 4 united_states Kevin Harvick  Ford 22.179 0.124 121.737
7 18 united_states Kyle Busch  Toyota 22.217 0.162 121.529
8 17 united_states Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  Ford 22.221 0.166 121.507
9 24 united_states Chase Elliott  Chevrolet 22.227 0.172 121.474
10 77 united_states Erik Jones  Toyota 22.251 0.196 121.343
11 1 united_states Jamie McMurray  Chevrolet 22.291 0.236 121.125
12 22 united_states Joey Logano  Ford 22.325 0.270 120.941
13 14 united_states Clint Bowyer  Ford 22.154 0.099 121.874
14 21 united_states Ryan Blaney  Ford 22.172 0.117 121.775
15 2 united_states Brad Keselowski  Ford 22.181 0.126 121.726
16 19 mexico Daniel Suarez  Toyota 22.181 0.126 121.726
17 5 united_states Kasey Kahne  Chevrolet 22.209 0.154 121.572
18 6 united_states Trevor Bayne  Ford 22.212 0.157 121.556
19 10 united_states Danica Patrick  Ford 22.277 0.222 121.201
20 48 united_states Jimmie Johnson  Chevrolet 22.287 0.232 121.147
21 88 united_states Dale Earnhardt Jr.  Chevrolet 22.302 0.247 121.065
22 47 united_states A.J. Allmendinger  Chevrolet 22.352 0.297 120.795
23 43 united_states Aric Almirola  Ford 22.424 0.369 120.407
24 37 united_states Chris Buescher  Chevrolet 22.465 0.410 120.187
25 32 united_states Matt DiBenedetto  Ford 22.194 0.139 121.655
26 27 united_states Paul Menard  Chevrolet 22.201 0.146 121.616
27 31 united_states Ryan Newman  Chevrolet 22.204 0.149 121.600
28 95 united_states Michael McDowell  Chevrolet 22.242 0.187 121.392
29 38 united_states David Ragan  Ford 22.242 0.187 121.392
30 34 united_states Landon Cassill  Ford 22.248 0.193 121.359
31 3 united_states Austin Dillon  Chevrolet 22.266 0.211 121.261
32 13 united_states Ty Dillon  Chevrolet 22.294 0.239 121.109
33 83 united_states Corey Lajoie  Toyota 22.363 0.308 120.735
34 23 united_states Gray Gaulding  Toyota 22.466 0.411 120.182
35 72 united_states Cole Whitt  Chevrolet 22.468 0.413 120.171
36 55 united_states Reed Sorenson  Chevrolet 22.477 0.422 120.123
37 33 united_states Jeffrey Earnhardt  Chevrolet 22.554 0.499 119.713
38 15 united_states Derrike Cope  Toyota 22.850 0.795 118.162
39 51 united_states B.J. McLeod  Chevrolet 23.090 1.035 116.934
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