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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.


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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)
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Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 at Darlington Raceway on April 11, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 at Darlington Raceway on April 11, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Stewart-Haas Racing team co-owner Gene Haas (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Stewart-Haas Racing team co-owner Gene Haas (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 Chevrolet, and Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, lead the field past the green flag after the initial caution ended during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 7, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series O`Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 4, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
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Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series O`Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 4, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

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