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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)
Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Racing Team battled back from a bad re-start after the first caution of the race to finish 17th in the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. (Photo Credit: Campbell Marketing)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Ideal Door/Menards Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 20, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jeff Curry/Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Ideal Door/Menards Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 20, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Ideal Door/Menards Toyota, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 20, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Ideal Door/Menards Toyota, talks to Erik Jones, driver of the #4 Toyota Toyota, on the grid during pre-race ceremonies for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 20, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS, qualifies for fourth position Friday, November 20, 2015 Sunday`s final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Defending Sprint Cup Champion Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, qualifies for thirteenth position Friday, November 20, 2015 for Sunday`s Championship 4, the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Harvick will be joined by Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS and Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS to compete for the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS, qualifies for eleventh position Friday, November 20, 2015 for Sunday`s Championship 4, the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Truex, Jr. will be joined by Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS and Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS to compete for the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, qualifies for fifth position Friday, November 20, 2015 for Sunday`s Championship 4, the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Gordon will be joined by Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS and Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS to compete for the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. Sunday will be Gordon`s last race as a full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup driver. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for pole position during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 20, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for pole position during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 20, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
(From left) Driver Ryan Blaney, Ford Board Member Edsel B. Ford II, Director of Ford Performance Dave Pericak, Len Wood and Eddie Wood after announcing that Wood Brothers Racing would run a full-time schedule in 2016. (Picture Credit: Campbell Marketing)
(L-R) Amy Reimann celebrates with Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, in victory lane after Earnhardt won the rain-shortened NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 15, 2015 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Timothy Peters, driver of the #17 Red Horse Racing Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 13, 2015 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Chase contender Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Pepsi Chevrolet SS, qualifies for eleventh position Friday, November 13, 2015 for Sunday`s final round of the Eliminator 8 NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase race at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)

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