Who says there's no home-field advantage in NASCAR racing?

Brothers Kyle and Kurt Busch, both Las Vegas natives, put their cars on the front row for Sunday's Shelby 427 Sprint Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway during a qualifying session that saw twelve drivers surpass the previous track record.

Driving the #18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, Kyle Busch got the better of the sibling rivalry, turning a lap in 29.033 seconds (185.995 mph) Friday to win the pole at the 1.5-mile racetrack. Kurt Busch covered the distance in 29.078 seconds (185.707 mph) to claim the second starting spot.

The brothers, however, won't start side-by-side on Sunday. Because of an engine change during Friday's Cup practice session, Kyle Busch will drop to the rear of the field for the start of the race, while third-place qualifier Jimmie Johnson (185.688 mph) moves up beside Kurt Busch into the pole position.

David Reutimann (185.624 mph) will start fourth, followed by Marcus Ambrose (185.459 mph), whose #47 JTG-Daugherty Racing Toyota is affiliated with Michael Waltrip Racing, which fields Reutimann's #00 Camry. Reutimann and Ambrose also will start from the rear after a post-qualifying engine changes.

Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne, Mark Martin, Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart will start from positions six through ten, respectively.

Busch was philosophical about having to give up the top spot for Sunday's race, which will be run at 427.5 miles for the first time, in deference to the race's title sponsor, the 427 Shelby Cobra.

"It's cool that we're both up there, qualifying on the front row, but unfortunately for myself, I won't be in the cool photo at the drop of the green flag, next to my brother," he said. "I'll have to drop to the back of the field for the engine change.

"We didn't get any (practice) laps in qualifying trim, so we just went out there and sailed a lap as fast as I thought I needed to go. Fortunately, it was fast enough."

"It would have been great to go out and see who would have led that first lap, but you can't get caught up in all that notion," added Kurt Busch.

Bumpy asphalt in the turns one and two played havoc with the qualifying efforts of many competitors, including Jeff Gordon (who starts 28th) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (31st).

Points leader Matt Kenseth, winner of the first two Cup races, suffered a blow in his attempt to become the first driver to win three Cup races to start a season. Kenseth will start 40th on an owner points provisional. No driver has won at Las Vegas from deeper in the field than the 25th position, whence Kenseth started and won in 2004.

For the second straight week, the pole winner will start from the rear because of an engine change. Brian Vickers won the top spot at Fontana last week. Vickers and Red Bull Racing team-mate Scott Speed also changed engines Friday and will drop to the back.

Travis Kvapil, Dave Blaney, Mike Garvey, Jeremy Mayfield, Sterling Marlin, Scott Riggs, Tony Raines and Dexter Bean failed to qualify for Sunday's race.

by Reid Spencer/Sporting News



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