AVONDALE, Ariz. – Joe Gibbs Racing dominated Good Sam 500 qualifying Friday at Phoenix International Raceway, putting three of its cars in the top three and placing Kyle Busch on the pole.
Busch won the 18th pole of his career with a speed of 138.387 miles per hour, leading JGR teammates Carl Edwards and Denny Hamlin.
Busch made a pair of runs during the final time-trial session.
“When we unloaded off the truck, everything seemed to go real well,” Busch said. “I wasn’t sure of the speed in race trim, but when we switched over to qualifying we were in good shape. I look forward to what we can do here Sunday.”.
Busch said the Gibbs domination Friday “was a combination of everything. It’s hard to tell where you gain – entry speed, center speed, exit speed, straightaway speed. It was just everywhere.”.
Kevin Harvick, the dominant driver at PIR with seven career victories, was a non-entity in qualifying. He will start 18th.
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Jimmie Johnson crashed hard in the second turn in the final round of qualifying, sailing at near-full speed into the second-turn wall. He was not injured, but the car was heavily damaged on the right side, and the team immediately began preparing its backup.
A few minutes after the wreck, Johnson said the car “just locked straight” as he drove through the turn. Later, he tweeted that “the steering wheel came off. I know my interview was vague, but wanted to tell the team first. I’m thankful for soft walls.”.
Kurt Busch was fastest in the opening round of qualifying. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Was among those who failed to advance to the second round.
The first round was interrupted by an unusual incident. As Kasey Kahne’s Chevrolet slowed and dropped to the track apron, smoke poured from the back of the engine compartment near the cowl.
With the idea that smoke follows fire, Kahne climbed quickly from the car after it came to a halt on the apron. However, fire could not be seen anywhere on the car, and it was towed to the garage area for repairs.
Kahne recorded a qualifying time in round one but didn’t participate in the second round. He qualified 24th.
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