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Kenseth on pole for Daytona Coke Zero 400

Current Sprint Cup championship leader Matt Kenseth will start from pole position for Saturday night's Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
Matt Kenseth claimed pole position for the first time on the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway, and will start the Coke Zero 400 Saturday night race alongside reigning Cup champion Tony Stewart.

"Our lap was obviously a good one - it was faster than the rest!" he said afterwards. " I had very little to do with it, so qualifying at the speedway races is all about the car and the engine and those guys did a spectacular job at Roush all year long really in preparing our speedway cars," he added, paying testament to Roush Fenway, the team he's just announced that he wil be leaving a the end of 2012.

Although he's not started from pole at Daytona before, Kenseth won the Daytona 500 only a few months ago at the start of the 2012 season, and clearly has a feel for one of NASCAR's fastest and most gruelling tracks. If he were to win again on Saturday, he would be the first driver in 30 years to claim two Daytona titles in one season - the last to do so being Hall of Famer Bobby Allison.

"The pole is different," he admitted. "I've never won a speedway pole. Certainly you know you didn't have a lot to do with the outcome compared to all the other race tracks, but it's great to be on the pole. It puts us in the [Daytona] Shootout for next year.

"Starting that thing from the front, I think that first pit stall is always a little bit of an advantage," he added. "Hopefully, you can get out front and manage your temperatures a little bit and hopefully get a bonus point or two for leading some laps.”

Kenseth's pole time of 45.492s (197.837 mph) was just six thousandths of a second ahead of reigning Cup champion Tony Stewart, who in turn was just two thusandths of a second faster than his Stewart/Haas Racing team mate Ryan Newman.

But instead it's Newman who will line-up alongside Kenseth on the front row of the grid, after Stewart's qualifying time was deleted for a technical infringement (an open cooling hose found under the cockpit, which could provide aerodymamic benefit.)

Bill Elliott was the fastest non-guaranteed driver to make the field, in only his second Cup start of the year and his first in a one-off outing with Turner Motorsports, while Robert Richardson Jr. was the only non-qualifier for the 43-car grid

Denny Hamlin successfully qualified the #11 car in 24th position alongside team mate Kyle Busch, despite Hamlin having opted not to take part in Thursday's practice sessions and having decided to pull out of his scheduled appearance in Friday night's Nationwide Series event because of a sore back.




Related Pictures

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Matt Kenseth at Texas during Thursday practice. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #17 Zest Ford, climbs out of his car after qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway on Friday in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #17 Zest Ford, poses in Victory Lane after qualifying for the Coors Light pole position in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway on Friday in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
David Ragan, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 27, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, signs the Coors Light Pole board after qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 27, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, poses with the Pole Award after qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 27, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS qualifies in second position Friday, February 27, 2015 for a front row position start in Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 McDonald’s Chevrolet SS qualifies in third position Friday, February 27, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #4 Energizer Chevrolet SS qualifies in sixth position Friday, February 27, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS qualifies in seventh position Friday, February 27, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Team XTREME Racing #44 entry - driven in the Daytona 500 by Reed Sorenson (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 57th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 22, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images via Getty Images)
Regan Smith, interim driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS finishes in sixteenth place in the Daytona 500 Sunday, February 22, 2015 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by HHP/Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS finishes in fifth place, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS finishes in 33rd place in the Daytona 500 Sunday, February 22, 2015 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. Gordon, who led for 87 laps,  was involved in a multi-car incident on the last lap. (Photo by HHP/Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS races to a third place finish with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS who finishes in fifth place in the Daytona 500 Sunday, February 22, 2015 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by HHP/Alan Marler for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS pulls into his pit on his way to a second place finish in the Daytona 500 Sunday, February 22, 2015 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by HHP/Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, and Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Percision Chevrolet, lead the field during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 57th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 22, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, and Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota, race three-wide during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 57th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 22, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

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