Kyle Busch held off rookie Chase Elliott to earn the Coors Light Pole Award Friday afternoon for that evening’s VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200 Nationwide Series race at Darlington Raceway.
Busch recorded a best speed of 173.681 mph in the second of his final two qualifying laps around Darlington’s unique 1.366-mile, egg-shaped oval.
It was Busch’s 37th career Nationwide Series pole, and also extends a string where he has earned at least one pole in each of the last 11 NNS seasons that he’s competed in.
“To win another pole in another season is pretty good, and we’d like to come out of here with another win tonight,” Busch said.
Not only is he on the pole, but Joe Gibbs Racing is the likely overall favorite, having won seven of the last eight NNS races at the so-called Track Too Tough to Tame.
Elliott, who earned his first career NNS win last week at Texas, was just a tick away from Busch, recording the second-fastest speed at 173.448 mph.
“(Busch) just put up a little bit better lap than I did,” Elliott said. “I just have to improve and try to do a better job next time. Regardless, we got a good starting spot for us. We just have to make sure we hold on to track position tonight.”
Another JGR driver, Matt Kenseth, was third (173.106), followed by fourth-fastest Kevin Harvick (171.662) and Ty Dillon as the fifth-fastest (171.249).
Among those that failed to reach the final 12-driver knockout round were Texas Sprint Cup winner Joey Logano, Dylan Kwasniewski, Brendan Gaughan, James Buescher and Ryan Reed.
With just over a minute left in the third and final qualifying round, Kyle Larson’s broke loose, spun and he kissed the inside retaining wall with the right side of his Chevrolet.
Damage did not look significant, and even though the race was due to start just over two hours later, his team is going to try and repair Larson’s Chevrolet so he can take advantage of his 12th-place qualifying position before the wreck occurred.
That was not the case for Larson earlier Friday, when he wrecked his primary car in the first of two Sprint Cup practice sessions, forcing him to go to a backup car for Saturday night’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 race.
The green flag for Friday night’s NNS race drops at 7:30 pm ET and will be televised on ESPN2.
Here’s how Friday night’s VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200 stacks up:
Kyle Busch 173.681 mph, Chase Elliott 173.448
Matt Kenseth 173.106, Kevin Harvick171.662
Ty Dillon 171.249, Chris Buescher 170.922
Brian Scott 170.857, Regan Smith 170.572
Elliott Sadler 170.283, Trevor Bayne 169.631
Cale Conley 168.914, Kyle Larson 132.112
Brendan Gaughan 169.836, Ryan Sieg 169.789
Joey Logano 169.543, Landon Cassill 168.810
Dylan Kwasniewski 168.602, Ryan Reed 168.538
Josh Wise 168.526, Mike Bliss 168.394
Jeremy Clements 167.853, James Buescher 167.476
J.J. Yeley 167.436, David Starr 166.259
Dakoda Armstrong 166.631, Jeffrey Earnhardt 166.518
Mike Wallace 166.349, Tanner Berryhill 166.236
Todd Bodine 166.197, Eric McClure 165.693
Kevin Lepage 165.009, Joey Gase 164.490
Matt DiBenedetto 163.696, Tommy Joe Martins 163.462
Derrike Cope 161.790, Carlos Contreras 160.816
Matt Carter 160.507, Jeff Green 160.397
Mike Harmon 157.808, Blake Koch 156.015
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