10 March 2012
Kahne takes his first pole for Hendrick
Kasey Kahne took pole position for Sunday's Kobalt Tools 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, with Kyle Busch alongside him on the front row.
Kasey Kahne was celebrating his first pole position since moving to Hendrick Motorsports with a record lap of 28.353s (190.456mph) in Friday evening qualifying.
"It was a good lap, we carried a lot of speed to the line," said Kahne after his qualifying lap. "I got through 1 and 2 really well. When I got to 3, I was a little bit tight and just had a little more wheel than what I would have liked coming off of 4 and back to the line.
"So I knew I was a little on the tight side, but I still felt like it was a good run and the Hendrick engine runs so well it pulls you there," he continued. "I was on the gas and these Hendrick engines run so well. I felt good about it but it definitely wasn't a perfect lap."
Not perfect, perhaps - but still better than anyone else, pipping Kyle Busch to the pole by 0.062s to give Kahne his first pole since Atlanta last September, his 23rd pole in 291 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. Three of those have now come at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, so the high-banked D-shaped 1.5-mile oval is clearly a track that suits the former Red Bull Racing driver.
Kahne's looking for a good recovery after wasting a strong opportunity in last weekend's race.
"Last weekend, we had as good a car as anybody at Phoenix. I qualified well, was really good in practice - the best car in practice - and then in the race, we just needed to do things right and be there at the end," he said. "I made a mistake, and we lost a lot of points because of that. We had a rough day because of a mistake I made," he admitted, saying that it was down to him to make amends for that disappointment.
Alongside him for Sunday's green flag start, Kyle Busch was happy enough with the remaining slot on the front row - especially given that he had lost most of his track time in the earlier Friday practice session after his car was damaged running over debris from Juan Montoya hitting the wall.
"It was really good: the car felt great, laid down a good lap," said the Joe Gibbs Racing driver. "Wasn't sure it was going to be that good, but considering practice we were really loose and we only got a couple runs in. Didn't quite get the setup the way we wanted to and gave us an early draw. Maybe that's what hurt us a little bit."
Vegas is actually Busch's home event, and he's been on pole here twice before. He admitted that being the home town boy put him under more of a spotlight at Vegas than anywhere else.
"Certainly, there's added pressure on just from myself or feeling like you really want to run well here in front of the hometown crowd and being able to go out there and be successful here," he agreed. "Definitely more stressful for sure. Coming to Las Vegas, it's always fun of course to be able to come back home and see friends and everything like that, but it's more stressful when you get to the race track because you want to do well."
Kevin Harvick will start alongside Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the second row of the grid.
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