Saturday, May 7, 2011

Kasey Kahne wins Cup pole with Darlington-record speed

Saturday, May 7, 2011

DARLINGTON, S.C. (AP) ? Kasey Kahne (FSY) continued his strong showing this year at Darlington Raceway, following a Trucks victory in March with a record-setting qualifying lap Friday for the Southern 500.

  • Kasey Kahne speaks to reporters after qualifying for the pole at Darlington with a lap of 181.254 mph, surpassing the track record of 180.370 Jamie McMurray set a year ago.

    By Willis Glassgow, AP

    Kasey Kahne speaks to reporters after qualifying for the pole at Darlington with a lap of 181.254 mph, surpassing the track record of 180.370 Jamie McMurray set a year ago.

By Willis Glassgow, AP

Kasey Kahne speaks to reporters after qualifying for the pole at Darlington with a lap of 181.254 mph, surpassing the track record of 180.370 Jamie McMurray set a year ago.

Kahne won his fourth career pole in nine starts at the track "Too Tough To Tame" with a lap of 181.254 mph, surpassing the mark of 180.370 mph set by Jamie McMurray (FSY) a year ago.

Kahne was the marquee name in the Camping World Trucks event at Darlington two months ago while NASCAR's top two series had the weekend off. So how much did taking the checkered flag then help Kahne on Friday?

"I don't think that hurt us that all. We had a great truck that night, that whole day," Kahne said. "Anytime you make laps on this track, it just builds on your confidence and builds on what you're looking for in your car."

Kahne will be joined on the front row Saturday night by Ryan Newman (FSY), who also bettered the previous record at 180.429. Defending race champion Denny Hamlin (FSY) was third, Sprint Cup points leader Carl Edwards (FSY) fourth and seven-time Darlington winner Jeff Gordon (FSY) fifth.

It was the fourth consecutive race since Darlington was repaved after the 2007 event that the qualifying record was broken. Greg Biffle (FSY) did it in 2008 and Matt Kenseth (FSY) followed in 2009. The top qualifying speed has improved by nearly 8 mph over Ward Burton's (FSY) record-setting lap of 173.797 from 1996 that stood 12 years.

Kahne's previous qualifying success had come on Darlington's old, abrasive, tire-chewing surface with poles at the track's 2004 spring race — the last year it held two Sprint Cup weekends — and in 2005 and 2006. His best finish came after his last pole, finishing third behind Biffle five years back.

Kahne's had his struggles since the repave, his best finish in the three races since a 20th last year.

"I feel it's take me a little bit of time," he said. "The cars handle a little bit different but we just keep working on it."

Newman's lap ended a turbulent day at Darlington when he and driver Juan Pablo Montoya (FSY) talked with NASCAR about their spat at Richmond a week ago. NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp acknowledged the meeting didn't go as well as the governing body hoped.

Newman had wrecked Montoya early in the race and Montoya later retaliated.

"That was a private meeting, that's why we met in the hauler," Newman said. "I'm past all that. We'll work on tomorrow's race and everything else. That's behind us."

Hamlin swept the Nationwide and Sprint Cup races here in 2010 and hopes to keep the momentum he gained from a second-place last week at Richmond.

Edwards strong lap continued a stellar week for the points leader. Wife, Kate, gave birth to the couple's second child, Michael, this past Wednesday night. Edwards said and mother and child are healthy and resting a home.

Gordon is seeking is eighth Darlington victory. Only upcoming Hall of Fame inductee David Pearson with 10 and the late Dale Earnhardt Jr. (FSY) with nine have won more often here.

Marcos Ambrose (FSY) will start sixth, followed by AJ Allmendinger (FSY) and Brian Vickers (FSY). Tony Stewart (FSY) and Brad Keselowski (FSY) round out the top 10.


Southern 500 lineup

1. (4) Kasey Kahne (FSY), Toyota, 181.254 mph.

2. (39) Ryan Newman (FSY), Chevrolet, 180.429.

3. (11) Denny Hamlin (FSY), Toyota, 180.132.

4. (99) Carl Edwards (FSY), Ford, 179.98.

5. (24) Jeff Gordon (FSY), Chevrolet, 179.829.

6. (9) Marcos Ambrose (FSY), Ford, 179.671.

7. (43) A J Allmendinger, Ford, 179.448.

8. (83) Brian Vickers (FSY), Toyota, 179.259.

9. (14) Tony Stewart (FSY), Chevrolet, 179.108.

10. (2) Brad Keselowski (FSY), Dodge, 179.082.

11. (6) David Ragan (FSY), Ford, 179.076.

12. (1) Jamie McMurray (FSY), Chevrolet, 178.88.

13. (29) Kevin Harvick (FSY), Chevrolet, 178.588.

14. (18) Kyle Busch (FSY), Toyota, 178.445.

15. (47) Bobby Labonte (FSY), Toyota, 178.381.

16. (42) Juan Pablo Montoya (FSY), Chevrolet, 178.264.

17. (20) Joey Logano (FSY), Toyota, 178.161.

18. (27) Paul Menard (FSY), Chevrolet, 178.103.

19. (48) Jimmie Johnson (FSY), Chevrolet, 178.038.

20. (17) Matt Kenseth (FSY), Ford, 177.993.

21. (38) Travis Kvapil (FSY), Ford, 177.987.

22. (16) Greg Biffle (FSY), Ford, 177.955.

23. (78) Regan Smith (FSY), Chevrolet, 177.871.

24. (31) Jeff Burton (FSY), Chevrolet, 177.826.

25. (22) Kurt Busch (FSY), Dodge, 177.755.

26. (33) Clint Bowyer (FSY), Chevrolet, 177.723.

27. (09) Landon Cassill (FSY), Chevrolet, 177.672.

28. (5) Mark Martin (FSY), Chevrolet, 177.614.

29. (56) Martin Truex Jr. (FSY), Toyota, 177.083.

30. (88) Dale Earnhardt Jr. (FSY), Chevrolet, 176.72.

31. (46) J.J. Yeley (FSY), Chevrolet, 176.682.

32. (13) Casey Mears (FSY), Toyota, 176.391.

33. (50) T.J. Bell (FSY), Toyota, 176.239.

34. (60) Mike Skinner (FSY), Toyota, 176.201.

35. (37) Tony Raines (FSY), Ford, 176.189.

36. (00) David Reutimann (FSY), Toyota, 176.125.

37. (34) David Gilliland (FSY), Ford, 175.472.

38. (30) David Stremme (FSY), Chevrolet, 175.409.

39. (66) Michael McDowell (FSY), Toyota, 175.353.

40. (32) Ken Schrader (FSY), Ford, 175.291.

41. (87) Joe Nemechek (FSY), Toyota, 174.6.

42. (36) Dave Blaney (FSY), Chevrolet, 174.229.

43. (7) Robby Gordon (FSY), Dodge, Owner Points.

Failed to qualify

44. (81) Scott Riggs (FSY), Chevrolet, 174.093.

45. (71) Andy Lally (FSY), Ford, 171.866.

46. (92) Brian Keselowski (FSY), Dodge, 170.892.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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