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NASCAR: Kurt Busch nets second pole of the season

Kurt Busch will start on pole for the second consecutive week after beating Penske's Joey Logano by 0.067s in the final round of qualifying in Las Vegas.
Last week in Atlanta, Kurt Busch was handed pole position when his brother Kyle was excluded from qualifying over a technical infringement; this week the Stewart-Haas Racing driver needed no such help to come out top in qualifying, his final round lap of 27.505s (196.328mph) handing him his 21st pole in 543 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races.

It's Busch's second time on pole at the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the 37-year-old's home track.

Full NASCAR Sprint Cup testing, practice and qualifying results from Las Vegas Motor Speedway

"It was insanely fast. It's amazing all the detail that goes into qualifying with finding that perfect lap three times out there," said Busch afterwards. "Two poles in a row, this is great. This is how you work through an off season and show up to qualify, now we just need to find that speed on the long run. Really proud of everybody at SHR."

As well as claiming pole, Busch also set a new track record during the session with his time in the first round of qualifying which clocked in at 27.498s (196.378mph). However, his second round effort had been off the pace forcing him to make an extra run to make it through to the top-12 pole shoot-out.

"It was quite the adventurous three rounds," Busch admitted. "We had to make an extra run because of the driver trying to go too hard and give it all that he could. I just overdrove Turn 1 in the second round. That forced us into a situation to where we had to go make an extra run and it just made it for an extra pressure cooker situation.

"All-in-all you just have to play it cool and rely on all of your team members. The way that the session unfolded for us we were in perfect position by the time we got to Round 3 because we had made it to Round 3. I said 'you know we are either pole or we are 12th it doesn't matter'.

"When you go tell yourself and rely on the car and the grip that the team gave you, you go for it. If it sticks then usually it's a pole because I have that good of a team from Stewart-Haas Racing. Qualifying is getting so tight. Everybody is trying to find that hundredth of a second. It comes from all areas. I'm just blessed to have a great crew and a great group of guys that give it their all no matter if it's a qualifying session, a race session and each pit stop. I'm just very happy with the team right now."

Penske's Joey Logano will line up alongside Busch on the front row for Sunday afternoon's Kobalt 400, after missing out on the top spot by 0.067s.

"Second is so close. Second always stings the most," said Logano. "Our car was close, I just had to want it more. I pushed as hard as I could and got a little tight in one and two and that was enough to give up that speed we needed to get the pole tonight. I am so proud of what this Pennzoil team has done to pick up over last week. Dang it. It is so close. It was a lot of fun out there tonight and we are looking forward to Sunday."

Joe Gibbs Racing's Matt Kenseth will start from third place alongside Logano's team mate Brad Keselowski, who earlier topped the sole Friday practice session and who was also fastest in the second round of qualifying but who couldn't quite reproduce that form in the shoot-out to put him on the front row.

"It was a pretty good day," said Keselowski. "I think at the end I tried just a little too hard. The track kept picking up as night came in and you saw the speeds pick up the last few runs. I tried a little too hard to get that last little bit of pick-up and it wasn't quite there. I probably swung a little too hard.

"All in all a really good day for us. It was a good improvement from where we were last week and look forward to showcasing that same improvement in the race and getting another win here in Las Vegas. That would be really special to add another one to the Las Vegas win pile."

Richard Childress Racing's Austin Dillon starts alongside SHR's Kevin Harvick on row three, with Richard Petty Motorsports' Aric Almirola next to Hendrick Motorsports' Kasey Kahne on row four and JGR's Denny Hamlin and Furniture Row Racing's completing the top ten.

Hamlin had come into the day already on the back foot after crashing just an hour into a test session at LVMS on Thursday afternoon which wrecked what would have been his primary race car, although he won't have to go to the back of the field as the incident took place before the start of the official weekend's race build-up.

“We made some changes and were trying some different stuff and I got a little bit loose there," Hamlin said later. “I had been tight all day and we made one significant change there and I just couldn't hold on.

"It was obviously beyond my talent level," he added. "It sucks for the crew guys. We have a lot of things to try and we were pretty good all day. And that change really moved the needle, finally, but I only got one lap on it and then I wrecked."

Truex is also competing under something of a cloud this weekend after being penalised 15 points as a result of the #78 Furniture Row Racing car failing pre-race technical inspection last week at Atlanta because a problem with the roof safety flaps.

The penalty was rated at P3-level because it was the second race in a row in which the roof flaps had failed inspection; the car's crew chief has been handed a one-race suspension and a $50,000 fine, which the team is appealing.

"Due to the severity of the P3 penalty levied against Furniture Row Racing and its crew chief Cole Pearn today," the team said in a statement midweek. "The #78 Sprint Cup team has informed NASCAR it will appeal the decision. The infraction, which was immediately corrected following technical inspection at Atlanta Motor Speedway last week, was safety related and not competition related. We sincerely appreciate that NASCAR has an appeal process so we can review the level of the penalty."

AJ Allmendinger has also been penalised ten points for rear wheel crush panel issues that came to light during pre-qualifying inspection at Atlanta. In addition, the crew chief of the #47 JTG Daugherty entry Randall Burnett, has been fined $15,000 and placed on probation until the end of the year. Allmendinger qualified in 12th place on Friday, one spot behind Hendrick's Jimmie Johnson.

Other penalties announced mid-week include Richard Childress Racing crew chiefs Slugger Labbe, Justin Alexander and Luke Lambert all being fined $15,000 and placed on probation over problems with body attachment mounts and supports. The drivers of the cars - Austin Dillon, Paul Menard and Ryan Newman - have been docked ten points each. Similarly penalised under the same rules infringement was Dave Winston, crew chief of the #95 Circle Sport Leavine Family Racing driven by Michael McDowell.

Full NASCAR Sprint Cup testing, practice and qualifying results from Las Vegas Motor Speedway

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Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, celebrates after capturing the pole position Friday, March 4, 2016 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas, Nevada. Busch set a track record with a fast lap of 196.328 mph. This was his second pole position this season. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett for Chevy Racing)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, celebrates with his crew chief, Tony Gibson, after capturing the pole position Friday, March 4, 2016 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas, Nevada. Busch set a track record with a fast lap of 196.328 mph. This was his second pole position this season. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett for Chevy Racing)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS, races to an eighth place finish with Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS who finished in second place Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Alan Marler for Chevy Racing)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #24 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet SS, stops in his pit on his way to a fifth place finish Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. Elliott takes over the #24 car from retired driver Jeff Gordon.  (Photo by Ashley R Dickerson for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS, races to a fourth place finish Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Alan Marler for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, finishes in second place Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Brian Cleary for Chevy Racing)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 as Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage (L) and John Godwin of Duck Commander (R) look on at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Stanley Toyota, leads the field to the green flag to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Toyota, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 7, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Stanley Toyota, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for the pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 8, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Stanley Toyota, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for the pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 8, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s 75th Anniversary Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 3, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s 75th Anniversary Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 3, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s 75th Anniversary Toyota, celebrates with the chequered flag after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 3, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)

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