Kenseth stuns Edwards for NASCAR pole in Kansas


Matt Kenseth pulled a rabbit out of his hat to score the pole for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 400 at Kansas Speedway this weekend.

Kenseth, the last driver to qualify in the No. 20 Home Depot/Husky Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, set a new track record of 191.86 mph to bump former Roush Fenway Racing teammate Carl Edwards off pole.

Edwards, and Kenseth’s new teammate Kyle Busch, watched and stared in utter disbelief (right).

Kenseth’s not known as a qualifying ace – the pole is only his ninth in a Sprint Cup career dating back to 1998 – but the run was one of his most impressive thanks to a new strategy on the 1.5-mile oval.

“You know, I struggled through (Turns) 1 and 2 all day, and I tried something really different there in qualifying,” Kenseth told “I watched Ricky and a couple of other guys get through there, and I kind of changed my approach to the corner.

“I knew I got through there pretty good, but I didn’t know it was that good, but, man, I didn’t think I could do any better in 3 and 4. It felt pretty good.”

Edwards, reluctantly, tipped his cap.

“I didn’t think Matt would be a factor, but he pulled that out somehow,” he said.

Behind the bemused front row, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. qualified third in another Roush Fenway Ford, ahead of Sam Hornish Jr. in a third Penske Racing Ford and Kyle Busch in the second of three JGR Toyotas.

Aric Almirola, Michael Waltrip Racing teammates Martin Truex Jr. and Mark Martin, Ryan Newman and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top 10.

Penske’s pair of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano – reeling from penalties issued by NASCAR earlier this week – qualified 33rd and 22nd respectively.

NHRA: John Force-like motor explosions get contagious during Sunday’s Gatornationals

Photo and video courtesy NHRA
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John Force is rubbing off on others – but probably not the way they or he would like.

The 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion has had spectacular motor explosions in each of the first three races of the new NHRA season, including during Friday’s qualifying for this weekend’s Gatornationals.

During Sunday’s quarterfinals of eliminations, Force’s teammate (and son-in-law and president of John Force Racing) Robert Hight squared off with fellow Funny Car driver Matt Hagan.

As the duo closed in on the finish line, both cars experienced spectacular motor explosions of their own – virtually side-by-side and nearly at the same time.

Hight’s car was the first to explode, tossing its body high in the air. A split-second later, Hagan’s car exploded, also sending the body flying.

Check out the NHRA video:

Hight wound up losing the race.

Hagan, meanwhile, and his crack pit crew rolled their backup car off the hauler, put in a new motor and went on to race through the semifinals and into the finals, losing to race winner “Fast Jack” Beckman.

“We had a pretty great race day, to be honest,” Hagan said. “I’ve never been to the finals in Gainesville.

“We obviously had a huge blow up in the second round, then to watch these guys pull the other car back out and put it together in the amount of time they had, then turn a win light on against Capps (Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps in the semifinals), then to be able to go to a final, it was huge and it speaks for itself.”

As for Hight, here’s his take on what happened with the motor explosion:

“I couldn’t see (Hagan) over there and it wasn’t like it was hazing the tires or anything else. As it turns out it wasn’t spinning at all. It kicked two rods out when it blacked the bearings in the crank then it hit the valves and blew up.

“The thing gave me no indication at all before that. What really scared me was once I got it under control and I look over and see his body is off his car. I am thinking ‘Oh man, he got gathered up in me.’ Then I stood up and looked and his injector was sideways so I realized he had an explosion as well. We are just lucky we didn’t get into each other.”

As for the guy who has had so much trouble in the motor department, John Force, he lost in the first round of Sunday’s eliminations to daughter Courtney Force.

John Force planned on shutting the motor off on his car at around the 700-foot mark of the 1,000-foot dragstrip, not wanting to risk another motor explosion – even though it meant a likely loss to his daughter.

Now John Force and his entire four-car team, including Courtney Force, Robert Hight and daughter and Top Fuel driver Brittany Force, will be off for extensive testing to try and determine what’s been causing the motor explosions.

“We have to evaluate it and go test,” Force said. “We’ll figure it out.”

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