Kyle Busch wins Cup pole at CMS; brother Kurt hits fastest qualifying speed on 1.5-mile track in NASCAR history

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CONCORD, N.C. – There’s something about winning poles for Kyle Busch.

Busch has won six poles in each of his six Nationwide Series starts this season, as well as in four of his six Truck Series starts.

Thursday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the younger Busch brother went out and earned his third pole of 2014 in the Sprint Cup Series, putting him atop the field to start Saturday night’s Bank of America 500.

Busch earned the point with a run of 197.390 mph, his second NSCS pole at Charlotte this season and 16th overall pole of his career.

“It seemed like the guy that was most consistent was able to win the pole tonight,” Busch told ESPN. “I felt real good about all three of them.

“We’d like to come out of here with a solid weekend and put us in a good spot to continue in this Chase.”

Jeff Gordon will start on the outside pole, covering the 1.5-mile track at a second-best speed of 197.217 mph.

“It’s so fast, so much grip, so much commitment,” Gordon said. “That’s a great effort. Practicing here during the day and qualifying at night is so tough.

“… This is a really, really good position to start Saturday’s race. … Hopefully we can come out of here with a win. That’ll make Talladega a lot easier.”

Denny Hamlin will start third (197.087 mph), followed by Tony Stewart (196.542), Ryan Newman (196.442), Paul Menard (196.100), Kevin Harvick (195.387), Brian Vickers (195.744), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (194.953), Carl Edwards (194.861), Kurt Busch (194.328) and Greg Biffle (191.598).

In the first of the three qualifying rounds, Kasey Kahne went out and set a new track record (197.976 mph), followed by 20 other drivers to exceed that mark.

And then in the second round, Kurt Busch quickly re-set the fresh new record with an outstanding run of 198.771 mph.

Kurt Busch’s mark was the fastest qualifying run on a 1.5-mile track in NASCAR history. It also was the 21st track record that has been broken this season, according to NASCAR statisticians.

Ironically, after Kahne set the track record in the first round of qualifying, he failed to advance in the second round as Kurt Busch moved on to the final field of 12 qualifiers – but could not better his own new track record.

Jimmie Johnson, who is ranked an unprecedented last in the 12-driver Chase field, failed to get out of the second round of qualifying.

Even though Johnson is a seven-time winner at CMS, his qualifying effort certainly doesn’t bode well for him to try and dig himself out of the hole he finds himself in the standings.

“We just didn’t have the speed on that final run,” Johnson said. “We just didn’t have any more on that lap. It’s disappointing, no way around it.

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IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.